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Respect for People principle

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Respect for People is one of the two guiding principles of the Toyota Way, a management philosophy originially developed for the manufacturing of automobiles. Engineer Taiichi Ohno is credited with developing the Toyota Way to help with Japan's economic recovery after World War II.

The management philosophy has two important components: Continual Improvement (also known as Kaizen) and Respect for People (also known as Respect for Stakeholders). The Continual Improvement part of the Toyota Way, which emphasizes eliminating waste, is better known in the Western world by the adjective "lean."

The guiding principle behind Respect for People is to: "Foster a corporate culture that enhances individual creativity and teamwork value, while honoring mutual trust and respect between labor and management." According to Toyota, the Respect for People principle breaks down into two essential components, respect and teamwork:

“RESPECT: We respect others, make every effort to understand each other, take responsibility and do our best to build mutual trust.

TEAMWORK: We stimulate personal and professional growth, share the opportunities of development and maximize individual and team performance.”

Lean production, lean management and lean software development all emphasize continous, incremental improvement and doing more with less. Because the key performance indicators (KPIs) for Continual Improvement could be measured, this part of the Toyota Way sometimes received more attention in the Western world, as evidenced by the wide-spread corporate adoption of lean Six Sigma.

The Respect for People component of the management philosophy, however, often received less attention because the key performance indicators for "respect" were difficult to measure. In the era of big data, however, that is changing, and companies are finding it easier to correlate data from disparate sources, including social media, and assign monetary value to KPIs for more subjective management concerns like customer satisfaction and employee churn.

Respect for People is also sometimes considered to conflict with a traditional business culture, which often puts a great deal of emphasis on short-term profit and a clear, quick and measurable path to ROI (return on investment). This too is changing, however, as corporate cultures that promote employee engagement and work-life balance increasingly demonstrate greater productivity, innovation and sustainability.

See Robert Kusén's TEDx talk, "Respect for People - the Foundation of Creative Organizations":

This was last updated in May 2015

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