“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”
– Rabindranath Tagore
My friend, and fellow Texas lean blogger / Big Ten college football fanatic, Mark Graban wrote an article earlier this week summarizing ten things he wished lean practitioners wouldn’t say in 2010.
It’s a good list and I recommend you check it out… but there were aspects of his list I respectfully don’t agree with… namely that the:
“Lean movement has gotten a bit carried away in embracing Japanese words.”
Now, to not misquote Mark he does say that he is “not opposed to all things or words of Japanese origin” but Mark’s point, which seems to be shared by several of his readers, is that the overuse of Japanese words is not always positive.
I disagreed with Mark in my comment to his post and then I read Mike Wroblewski’s article on the same topic and my resolve to continue using Japanese words became even stronger.
If you visit only one other blog today you must read Mike’s article.
Does it really matter?
To be sure, this topic of Japanese words has been hotly debated over the years and I imagine it will continue to be debated for a long time.
But the question worth asking is does it really matter? I mean Mark spent valuable time on his well written article, Mike spent time, and now here I am spending time.
Wouldn’t the 3 of us be better off writing about how to make lean work or sharing articles of lean success instead of debating this? Maybe.
Then again, maybe not.
You see if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years of practicing lean it’s that humility is at the heart of what we’re all trying to do.
I truly believe that without humility we’re all doomed.
In fact, the day we wake up and feel like we know all the answers or don’t need to ask why or don’t need to study and learn from those that have come before us we’re all destined for failure and government bail outs. Wait? Ah, never mind.
Furthermore, I strongly believe that any tool or concept with Japanese roots should be referred to by its Japanese name.
To attempt to rename or translate to an English equivalent, even a poor equivalent such as when people try to say hansei means reflection, shows a lack of respect to those who paved the lean road before us… in my opinion.
Oh, and to give our German friends their props it’s takt time not, ah heck I don’t even know what people attempt to call this when they’re bothered by the German language!
And, finally, to give my fellow American people their props let’s be sure to reference the awesome work of those that pioneered the TWI movement in all its English language glory.
Please Be Courteous
With all of this said… if you do join those of us proud to stand behind the original Japanese words there is some important advice I’d like to leave you with.
Namely, when you use these terms do so respectfully while quickly explaining what the words mean as well as why you feel using the Japanese word is important.
You see, saying heijunka may sound impressive… but if you’re saying it just to make yourself look clever, or worse yet to intimidate others with your apparent wisdom, you’re completely defeating the purpose and I beg you to stop. You’re not helping.
Do You Agree?
So, dear readers, what do you think of this hotly debated topic?
I know some of you disagree with me… and that’s OK. I’d appreciate hearing your opinion. And I know some of you agree with me and I’d love to hear why.
What do you think?