Key to Lean Six Sigma in Oil and Gas: Respect

As a long time karate man who teaches dojo kun, one of the precepts being: “Reigi o uyamon zuru koto” or translated means: “Respect others” I see this philosophy extended to the workforce.

Years ago, when I first learned how to fight in a dojo, my sensei then asked me to bow first before exchanging hard punches and kicks to my opponent. After several minutes, I'd end up with a black eye, bruised ribs or a sore jaw; Sensei would then ask us to bow again before leaving the floor. In the past, when I threw hands or rolled on the dirt scratching, biting and clawing my opponent, the furthest thing on my mind was "respect." I was in college not accustomed to this strange etiquette, but I was open to learning and wanted to understand why this and other teachings were so important to personal development. Sensei went on to explain that kumite or fighting should never be done in anger. Instead replace your anger with respect. When I asked why? He said because he was the instructor and he told me to. Didn't take me long to realize that it was best just shut up and do what he said. Being a hard head, asked to do something I wasn't accustomed to, it took me some time, but learned how to control my emotions and use this concept in the later years to better myself as a fighter, karate instructor and person.

Basically in dojo training, a true martial artist regardless of his feelings must show and make all efforts to respect everyone and everything around him. It is something that a person must feel not think, a sign of humility necessary for an open mind, which it turn helps the process of growth. This opportunity of learning is in abundance, information that can be used for advancement, as well as in battle to launch an attack or defend. In all cases, respect for others open the path for seeing things for what they are in an environment that encourages two-way communication. Perhaps this is why the Japanese in its Toyota Production Services asks all of its employees to “make every effort to understand each other, take responsibility and … best … build mutual trust.”

At the start of each work day, I find myself shaking hands with as many people I make eye contact with, rank and file members who brave the elements and perform tasks that challenge the limits of  their physical and mental abilities.  As a process facilitator, I ask these employees what could they have done better to improve their process: faster, better, easier and less expensive without sacrificing safety.  Ideas: good, bad and indifferent appear, tribal intelligence are revealed.  Had I not made the effort to approach them, these ideas would remain in obscrutity.  Therefore, no matter how slight, I log the ideas offer genuine thanks, and tell him or her that the ideas will be processed.  When they experience this recognition, I see an immediate empowerment. 

“Continuous improvement” I remind everyone and receive a resounding thumbs up.

Not many have the ability to sit down and document ideas that end up being policy or company practice.  As I have these conversations, the opportunity to be heard trumps incentives: The best source of information comes from those that swing a sledge hammer, turn wrenches, operate equipment, weld pieces of metals together, operate vacuum, roper, guzzler and hydro-excavator trucks, climb in and out of confined spaces and abandon wells. 

Even if you’re not in a karate dojo, you should make every effort if not habit to treat all individuals with respect. You'll be surprised with the results.

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