You are a Fool if You Do What I Say

Guest post from Mark Graban

There’s an interesting quote from Taiichi Ohno in “Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management,” which I was re-reading today…

“You are a fool if you do what I say. You are a greater fool if you don’t do as I say. You should think for yourself and come up with better ideas than mine.”

The best examples of Lean in healthcare are examples where leaders and organizations learned, but did not blindly copy. Sami Bahri DDS (the “lean dentist”) read Deming, Shingo, Ohno, etc. and had to figure this out himself, rather than copying some other dentist.

ThedaCare is the first to say “don’t directly copy what we do.”

We can learn from others, run our own experiments to see what works, and keep improving to make it better than even Ohno or Shingo would have imagined.

Related: Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativityRespect People by Creating a Climate for Joy in Work

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3 Responses to You are a Fool if You Do What I Say

  1. Mark Graban says:

    I don’t quite understand the paradox of Ohno’s quote – that you’re a fool if you do as he says and a fool if you don’t.

    I guess he means you’re a fool if you completely ignore him, but a fool also if you blindly copy?

  2. John Hunter says:

    Yes. I find the 2nd sentence a bit confusing. The 3rd sentence is gold.

    I chose to read the 2nd sentence as commentary on the 3rd sentence.

    Or he could just be tough to please. I hear Ohno was tough to please 😀

  3. Scott Rutherford says:

    Practical application. I have a friend in the health insurance business who is being directed to do exactly what the boss dictates. It is the wrong path. She feels directly the second sentence because it relates to her employment. She knows to do the third. Doing the third becomes a balancing act between the ramification paradox of sentences one and two and what is ultimately right for the customer. We often answer this paradox by leaving the problem. However, in this current reality that is difficult. No joy in work.

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