I have been studying The Toyota Way 2001 for several years now. One of the interesting things I found were differences in the English text compared to the Japanese text.
Wisdom & Continuous Improvement
The first difference I learned about was described in a blog by Michel Baudin called “Wisdom” and “Continuous Improvement” in the Toyota Way
Michel explains in this blog that the Japanese text “Chie to Kaizen” (知恵と改善) translates to “Wisdom & Continuous Improvement” and not to “Continuous Improvement” as the English text shows.
Bob Emiliani wrote in a reaction that “Edge goes to the home team” and that this difference was intentional. Others seem to confirm.
For Michel this was hard to swallow since that would show disrespect to Toyota’s American employees.
Others suggested that this would be a translation error.
My 2 cents
I think there is zero chance for a translation error. Toyota worked on this document for about ten years. It was, and is, way too important to be sloppy with translation.
I think that the English text is a stepping stone towards the Japanese text. In the image above I used some Toyota Kata terminology to picture this.
Given the current condition “Continuous Improvement” is challenging enough.It would be disrespectful to ask for more.
Wisdom is a very delicate subject. It gets way closer to the core beliefs people have. As I wrote before there is a huge leadership gap that needs to be bridged. I think Toyota’s senior leaders thought that would be a bridge too far.
Respect for Humanity
Later I found a similar blog addressing “Respect for Humanity” versus “Respect for People”.
Michel explains that the principle is not “respect for the person” or “respect for people” but “respect for humanity” (人間性尊重, ningenseisoncho).
Also this topic generated a lot of discussion about the difference in meaning and its potential implications.
My 2 cents
Again, I think that the English text is a stepping stone towards the Japanese text. I think the rationale behind the difference is something like:
Given the current condition “Respect for People” is challenging enough.It would be disrespectful to ask for more.
What do you think?