As I mentioned in a recent article I had the great honor of meeting Mr. Masaaki Imai, the founder of the Kaizen Institute and author of several lean related books.
As it turns out, Mr. Imai knew Mr. Taiichi Ohno – the chief architect of the Toyota Production System – very well as he escorted Mr. Ohno to several different countries including the United States
Here comes Mr. Oh – No!
Among his many stories, Mr. Imai explained how strict Mr. Ohno was with the managers and leaders he worked with at Toyota. This firmness actually brought many challenges for Mr. Ohno… to put in bluntly Mr. Ohno didn’t win any popularity contests on the gemba, or the place the work is done.
In fact, Mr. Imai explained that managers would often mumble under their breath that Mr. “Oh – No!” as in “oh no, here he comes again,” was headed their way and to prepare for intense scrutiny and questioning.
Mr. Imai went on to say that this strict management style is very hard to come by these days, especially in Western companies, since being liked and seen as friends is more important than challenging the status quo and demanding all associates continue to improve.
Can this style work in the West?
With this said, since most readers of LSS Academy are from the West I’m curious to hear your thoughts and opinions on this “strict” style of management.
Can a Western manager survive as a strict sensei who constantly challenges their associates and demands improvements? Or do you feel this strong management approach simply cannot work in today’s workplace?
What do you think? Do you have a Mr. or Mrs. Oh-No! in your organization? If so, are they effective in driving change?