A couple years ago I heard a quote that “Lean is 80% social and 20% technical”. This resonated with me as it supported my experiences that when employees are actively engaged in a lean improvement effort the improvements tend to be highly successful. Recently several articles were published in lean-focused publications that described examples of engaging employees and treating people well and how doing so improves the lives of employees as well as improving organizational performance.

Specifically, “10 Behaviors to Practice Respect for People”, “Improvement Unplugged” and “How to Build a Joyful Workplace” all addressed the needs of empowering people in the workplace to fully improve the organization.

Respect for people must be more than a mantra, it requires putting systems in place that support this respect. Creating an environment where ideas and expressing them are encouraged, information and knowledge are shared, help is happily offered.

There is a need to take the time to involve people in addressing problems that impact them, otherwise “Improvement unplugged”.

The need for workplace joy is real and impacts the work people do. Cultural expectations and critical behaviors such as:

  • Be responsible by working with focus, being transparent, acting with discipline and practicing servant leadership
  • Be effective using systems, thinking, simplifying, making decisions, finding compromise and acting proactively
  • Grow by fostering inquisitiveness, determining intrinsic motivation, reading, teaching, and mentoring compassionately

These and other behaviors are described and discussed at length in the articles. The result is a workplace that is productive, provides a work/life balance and leads to a safe environment where people can work together to help each other work through a problem without fear of looking bad.

These articles provide ideas and practices that should be considered when addressing improvement efforts in any organization. These important but often ignored aspects of continuous improvement may be the missing ingredient for successful organizations.

Phil Celotto, Insyte Consultant, helps WNY companies improve their operations through the implementation of lean manufacturing practices and ISO quality management systems. In addition to Insyte, Phil has worked at Hughes Aircraft, Carleton Technologies and SoPark Corporation in the engineering and operations fields. His experience includes positions as Project Engineer, Systems Engineer and Operations Manager. Phil is a certified Lean practitioner from SME/AME, has ISO 9000 and ISO 13485 Provisional Lead Auditor certifications and is an active member of APICS. He holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University at Buffalo.


“10 Behaviors to Practice Respect for People” – Gemba Academy

“Improvement Unplugged” –

How to Build a Joyful Workplace” –





Insyte Consulting