Consultants in Lean Manufacturing Á Manufacturing Strategy

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Maslow's Hierarchy In Lean

Specific Examples


Maslow's Hierarchy of needsLean Manufacturing makes extensive use of teams. Work Teams, particularly in cells, organize and manage their own work. Quality teams cope with quality issues and improvement teams make processes more efficient, smoother and more capable. Setup teams often work together to improve and speed setup operations.

True teams are not just a group of people who have been thrown together. They are miniature societies with their own mores, codes, procedures and relationships. Teams are excellent vehicles for fulfilling social needs. But they can satisfy even higher order needs as well. Team members implicitly recognize each other's worth and contributions. Members help each other to compensate for each other's weaknesses. Management can recognize teams, rather than individuals and thus promote team solidarity. All of this addresses Social, Esteem and Self-Fulfillment needs.


Highly Productive Workcell

Workers in a high-volume assembly cell manufacture brake adjusters for trucks & buses.

Cellular Manufacturing

The most effective workcells function best with work teams. Teams help to balance work, smooth flow and motivate people. They solve a range of problems and reduce or eliminate the need for supervision. At the same time, a properly designed cell encourages teamwork by allowing easy communication, close proximity and easy movement among workstations.

Various team members will have a range of skills and the team allows those individual skills to be exercised, developed and applied to useful work. the result is a high degree of personal as well as team fulfillment. Workcells carry the satisfaction of higher needs even beyond what teams alone can do.

Lean Manufacturing and the Needs Hierarchy

Maslow & Lean Manufacturing


Teams have been part of the quality movement from the very beginning. They were originally known as "Quality Circles." Quality, like safety, is an ideal that everyone favors and delivers great personal satisfaction to those who participate in it. Active participation in quality efforts gives people self-esteem and self-fulfillment as they use their abilities to achieve worthy goals.

Process Improvement

Process improvement and quality teams are often synonymous. All of the comments on quality apply here as well.


Setup Reduction (SMED) often uses teams for actual setups and it uses teams to establish setup procedures and improvements. Active participation can help people to satisfy Social, Esteem and Self-Fulfillment needs as it challenges their ingenuity and skills.


Training in many skills and areas is an important part of Lean Manufacturing. The idea is to get maximum performance from every employee by addressing the higher needs. The results are highly beneficial for both the organization and for the individual employees.


MASLOW, ABRAHAM, Eupsychian Management, 1965; republished as Maslow on Management, 1998

MASLOW, ABRAHAM, A Theory of Human Motivation (originally published in Psychological Review, 1943, Vol. 50 #4, pp. 370–396).


The Human Side of Lean Manufacturing


the Human Side of Lean Manufacturing VideoIn this unique Lean Manufacturing video, workers explain how they designed and built their own workcell. They talk about benefits to their company, and the profound improvements in their work life as we follow them in their work. These are real people with a real story.

The video dramatically illustrates Maslow's higher motivations as they apply in the workplace and to Lean concepts.

This video is an ideal introduction for the shop floor and gives important insights to supervisors, engineers and managers. It also shows how the human and technical elements of Lean Manufacturing interact in a complex Socio-Technical System.



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