Posted by: Knightbird | July 9, 2012

Submit Wisdom to the Company

“You should submit wisdom to the company.
If you don’t have any wisdom to contribute, submit sweat.
If nothing else, work hard and don’t sleep.
Or resign.”

Taiichi Ohno

This quote from Mr. Ohno sounds harsh, unless you consider what it is he is saying. We should all aspire to contributing our knowledge and experience, at whatever our level is, to the company we work for. He gives us the method for doing so, Kaizen. When you see or experience a defect, contribute your recognition (wisdom to see) to the company and to the extent you are able, participate in fixing the defect.

Otherwise, care enough about the company to sweat about the issues it faces and follow the wisdom contributed by others by learning standard work.

Otherwise, work really hard and hope to contribute what you can. This may include giving up sleep because many others in the company are working smarter and can do much more work than you can.

As far as resigning, I have made this point before. If you are not happy working for a company where respect and continuous improvement are our primary mission, then seek a place where you will be happy. There are many dysfunctional workplaces out there where you can acquire individual knowledge about workarounds and get to wear a cape to work (Here I come to save the day). In a lean workplace, your desire to do things your way screws it up for everyone else.

I have seen this type of behavior too many times in our workplace. As a result, what Ohno says does not seem harsh to me. Give in to the change and you will be productive.


  1. From what I understand, Ohno was very much to the point and like you, I agree with the synopsis.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. In as much as lean approach and kaizen improvements are concerned, all the team should be on the same page. Nothing will work out if anyone resists change or doubts its end in mind “goals”. It may achieve some levels of success yes but will never be sustainable enough if any of the team members have doubts. As you have always professed in your own daily struggles…transparency, no blame, no shame etc. In the end, if any of the memebers resist change they are not worth keeping unhappy and bound to the team. Ohno said resign, he did not say terminate.

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