The Human Side of Lean: The Harada Method
«Everyone can be successful in life,» said Takashi Harada, a Japanese track and field coach who developed a method that allowed a group of students from a marginal neighborhood in Osaka to achieve unthinking achievements: national gold medals for twelve consecutive years. The best athletes of their time in Japan. The Harada Method, as it is known, seeks a unique result: to get people to believe in themselves in order to achieve any goal they propose. Interesting challenge, right ?. The limitations are in one. We can choose to surrender, or we can choose otherwise.

If the method was so effective in sport, why not shift its potential to other activities? Why not apply these powerful concepts in organizations ?. Companies that are looking for employees who perform repetitive and boring tasks are left behind. Today it is known that the organizations that thrive are those that manage to motivate their employees and make them feel able to achieve what they are proposed, however ambitious it may seem.

Norman Bodek, a leading US consultant, was responsible for developing the application of the method in organizations. Let’s make a parenthesis here. Bodek is considered responsible for carrying and disseminating the idea of ​​Lean Manufacturing in the United States. Not only that, he had the opportunity to meet in person the great «gurus» of quality like Deming, Ishikawa, Juran, Shingo, Ohno, Akao and Crosby; Becoming (as if it were little) in the official English translator of the publications of the most important Japanese authors in quality, Ishikawa and Shingo included. His passion for Japanese culture led him to make more than 80 trips to Japan, where he visited hundreds of industrial plants. This background of knowledge and experience was reflected in more than 250 publications. Toyota fan and a great critic of his failure in American giants. In 2012, Bodek published «The Harada Method of the Spirit of Self-Reliance» in which he highlighted the properties of the method developed by Harada and how they could be transferred to organizations. Harada not only recognized that his principles could be used perfectly, but also actively participated in the publication.

Takashi Harada and Norman Bodek at the book presentation

The use of Harada Method in the organizations pursues several objectives, among which we can emphasize:
Develop leaders. Leaders who get people to maximize their skills in three dimensions: mind, body and spirit.
Motivate people. Make them define their own goals, and strive to achieve them with real conviction (here comes the concept of self-sufficiency mentioned in the book’s subtitle). The motivation is in a clear vision of the expected results.
Develop habits. Identify and implement habits that are aligned with your goals.
«Once you see your future clearly, you will be motivated to go to work, knowing that you are on your way to reach your maximum potential»
Says Bodek. There is much talk about the advantages of the Lean methodology for process improvement, but with too much emphasis on machines and little on people. The Harada Method aims to complement this reality, being the «human side» of Lean.

In summary…

The Harada Method is a great way to get the most out of our potential. According to its creator, we are all capable of reaching any goal that we propose. Like many other tools of improvement (kaizen, hansei) its principles can be applied in all aspects of our life. Not only in the work, but also in the personal. In addition, it can be aligned and coexist in harmony with other methodologies such as Six Sigma, TQM or TPS.

Takashi Harada and  Norman Bodek 
The Human Side of Lean: The Harada Method

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