Ethics & Lean: Good Marriage?


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How to resolve the issues with business ethics? Does Lean Practices having correlation with Business Ethic?Last a few decades I was struggling hard to get extra money for buying my first car, Honda Civic. After a few years when my economy was stable, I trade in my old car to a new Honda CRV in 2015 and it happened again when I bought a new version of CRV in 2018. I am a loyal customer of Honda. I prefer Honda compared to other car models because of the design look sporty, exclusive and comfortable with reasonable price to buy. My family is a fond of Honda brands and owned several models such as Honda City, Civic and Accord. We are satisfying the services offered by Honda. We never noticed the weakness of the Honda products until I attended to Business Ethics class for my MBA.

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While experiencing the class and fulfil the requirement of making assignments, then I realized when Ass. Prof Dr Mohd Zaher Mohd Zain asked the students to come up with a short write up on business ethics. I just started to see the world as it really is and it completely shocked me and changed my opinion on everything on life and my values and certainly my own sense of self. Then I started to realise the carmakers Honda (The Star 2018) and Ford (Dowling 2018) facing the similar issues on defective of “Takata” Airbag Inflator whereby Toyota having Vehicle Recalls related to improperly installed floor mats and sticky gas pedals (Liker 2011). According to Gareffa (2017) Honda has recalled more than 11 million, Toyota 6 million, Dodge/Ram more than 5 million, Nissan more than 4 million, Ford 3 million and Chevrolet almost 2 million. These cases were reflecting to the types of waste in Lean Management Practices. The major wastes concerned were defects and reworks, overproduction and over processing. This also might happen because of the number producing the vehicle in a huge amount. The company may target profit more than ethical value which resulted to fatal injuries as a consequence. Aggressive growth can create unmanageable risk (Connor 2010). The Lean Practices in an organisation without aligning business ethic will endure toward total failures and fraud. Hence, Lean practices with the elimination of wastes should be beneficence to the customers or society by serving the rights and good vehicles or products. Below is a suggestion of brief S. W. O. T Analysis referring to Business Issues or problems on Car Recall cases. As reported by The Star (2018), Honda Malaysia had raised precautionary recall to replace ‘Takata’ passenger front airbag inflator due to wiring issue that may lead to fire risk (John smith 2018). I had experienced this scenario with my CRV vehicles when I received notification letter to check up the air bag problem.

An excellent decision making by manufacturers which impacted the good for customers is a virtue of successful business in Lean Practices. Furthermore, a proper taxonomy in differing decision making styles and decision rules is vital to achieve good impact in decision making. Moreover, all decision making is suggested to have Primum Non Nocere which means doing no harm to achieve customer satisfaction and safety. These issues can be avoided if the car manufacturers practice a Deontology concept when ethics are in play. Besides eliminating waste of defects and reworks and waste of overproduction, this ethic theory will produce a very consistent decision when they based on individual’s set of duties. Below is the Blue Ocean Strategy Tool, Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create (ERRC Grid) to counter measure the S. W. O. T Analysis for further improvement.

In conclusion, my point of view, the combination of both Ethics and lean is vital in terms of developing policy and decision making (Anon 2017). Lean practices play the significant function to scrutinise the quality, product and services before deliver to the customers. Meanwhile, ethics play an important role to react when the organisation facing uncertain situation such as vehicle recalls. As consumer, I believed that an ethical business in lean management practices will bring the business beyond expectation not only in sustaining the business growth but profit as well.

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