Das Skandal

Publié le 02 octobre 2015

By Xavier Perrin (xperrin@xp-consulting.fr)

Last week newspaper headlines were being monopolized by the Volkswagen issue. I couldn’t read all these articles, but I have read a lot of them. Most of reporters commented the fall of stock prices, how US administration (and those of other countries) and VW’s customers were deceived. Other comments were speculations about the reasons which pushes VW’s managers to take such a decision.

Surprisingly, I have not read any article about the fact that employees were deceived.

VW has reached the first or second position of automakers. Such a performance isn’t a coincidence. It is the result of long years of excellence in R&D and marketing and sales, of sound management of finance and, excellence in producing cars according to high quality standards. Such an excellence couldn’t be attained without the total commitment of all employees. In lean management, we teach that « respect for people » is the condition for continuous improvement and success.

Respect for people means:
  • Creating a safe and healthy work-place: people cannot focus their energy and creativity for improving company’s performance if they are concerned with being injured or becoming ill when coming at work.
  • Stating and sharing company’s vision. Setting clear targets by disaggregating company’s goals and objectives (Hoshin Kanri).
  • Trusting people for meeting the challenges of the company. Not expecting them to do what managers think they have to do. Giving them education and knowledge in order to have them solving the problems by themselves. Not telling them how to do things. Instead, telling them why they have to do it and they will know how to do it.

There is fundamental questions that arise from the VW case: how can employees feel respected when managers took a decision – using a software to fool gas emission tests – which could have dramatic consequences for them? What about the consequence of lost sales? How many jobs could be threatened? What would be the consequence of employees losing confidence in their leaders? What will daily stand-up meetings look like?

Unfortunately, those questions have not been raised in the articles I have recently read about « Das Skandal »…

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