So these people go on about how it’s “Policy Deployment” and not “Hoshin Kanri” or it’s “Continuous Improvement” instead of “Kaizen.”
My personal opinion, if I may be so blunt, is these people lack humility. You see if it weren’t for these Japanese words – or ideas – we may still be waxing poetic about the merits of mass production.
Along these lines… I recently learned a lot more about a Japanese word I thought I understood. The word is shitsuke and is most commonly referenced as the 5th S in 5S. This final S typically stands for self-discipline or sustain.
Well, after exchanging a few emails with my good friend – Brad Schmidt of Gemba Research who lives in Japan and speaks the language as good as the locals – I came to realize that referring to shitsuke as self-discipline or sustain is only partially correct.
Spare the rod, spoil the child
You see, there is another meaning to the word shitsuke… and that meaning has a lot more to do with disciplining others, such as poorly behaving children, than it does with self-discipline or sustainability.
Here is how Brad put it.
When we first do 5S we do the first shitsuke which has the element of “force” in it. That’s to make sure people don’t stray from the truth. After you do the first shitsuke it then becomes the second shitsuke (self-discipline) which is more a state of being.
So, the next time you hear someone crying about all the Japanese words ask them if they really understand what the final S – in 5S – stands for.
Chances are they may only be partially correct… in which case you have the perfect opportunity to explain the merits of attempting to truly understand the incredible wisdom behind the Japanese words we so often take for granted.
What do you think?
Are you with me on accepting all the Japanese words? Or do you feel like scratching your eyes out when your lean buddy talks about going to gemba? And be honest… we’re all friends here. 😉