TPS and Family Time

For some reason a book I had never read, and should have read many years ago, is the masterpiece The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker. Well the drought is over as I am presently devouring the book. It is a good book so far (I’m in chapter 8) but there was one thing I believe misses the mark – big time.

In the chapter about the development of the Prius it explains how the team was up against a very tight deadline. The team members were cancelling vacations and doing all they could to meet the target completion date. This is all fine. I have cancelled vacations before and worked my fair share of 14+ hour days. I am all for hard work and dedication to the team.

But then I read about Mr. Takehisa Yaegashi who was a senior manager responsible for the hybrid engine team. After understanding how urgent the situation had become Mr. Yaegashi went home to his wife and “explained the situation” as the story goes. After explaining the situation he moved into the company dormitory to avoid all distractions.

Now I do not know Mr. Yaegashi’s personal situation and by no means am I trying to judge him. But there is no job in the entire world that would lead me to move into company dorms. I have an amazing wife and beautiful children whom I love more than anything and thinking I would ever call them “distractions” saddens me.

The other day I wrote about how we all need to be willing to get on our hands and knees once in awhile to really be Lean. But I’m sorry; leaving my family to focus on Lean or any type of work is not in my DNA. I personally travel a lot for my job and this is hard enough. But trust me when I say I do not travel to avoid the distractions! And one day, God willing, I will not be on the road so much.

A tenet of Lean is respect for people, correct? Personally, I think the most important people we should respect are our spouse and children.

I have a special message to all the Dad’s out there. Our kids do not understand the concept of “quality time” with us. This is a bunch of crap head doctors come up with. Instead, our kids base their happiness on one primary metric: Quantity of Time.  They want to spend time with us. This may be a trip to Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon or kicking the football around after you get home from work. But realize one thing men, it is the quantity of time with us they are after, not the quality of the time.

I took my kids with me this weekend to run some simple errands and the smiles on their faces were all the proof I needed to know I am speaking the truth here. If you don’t believe me test it for yourself. Your kids will love you for it.

Until next time, I wish you all the best on your journey towards continuous improvement.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    March 12, 2007 - 8:55 pm

    Doesn’t sound high on the “respect for people” scale.