Blog: “WHY Matters”

April 10, 2016

Shigeo Shingo was a Japanese industrial engineer and was respected throughout the world for his expertise on manufacturing practices and the Toyota Production System, or Lean Manufacturing as it later became known as.  Shingo believed that teaching people how to do something was not enough.  He believed that it was just as important to understand WHY they were doing it.  When people know the reason why for doing something, they become more engaged and motivated to take action.  Action leads to success and an enthusiastic journey of continuous improvement begins.


Lean Wellness applies the principles of Lean Manufacturing to workplace health promotion.  Knowing “the why” behind “the how” of healthy lifestyle behaviors leads to the same kind of success.  More importantly, discovering a “personal why” for changing a behavior leads to even greater achievement.  I may learn all the reasons why a healthy diet will benefit me, but the likelihood of lasting change will only result if I connect a healthy diet to something of real importance to me.  An upcoming wedding, being able to actively participate in the lives of children and grandchildren, being able to fit into a closet full of clothes – these are “whys” that provide personal motivation and make changes more likely to last.


Worksite wellness efforts often focus on competitive challenges. I guess the belief is that we are all motivated to perform better when there’s an opportunity to beat someone else?  Should that be the case when it comes to our health and well-being?  Should losing a few more pounds, or taking a few more steps than others become a recognition opportunity?  I don’t think so.  The motivation provided in a contest is not based on what matters most to individuals.  Understanding and supporting what matters to people is our most important “challenge.”


Live WELL!


M. J. White is the creator of “Lean Wellness”, a radically different approach to transforming health and wellbeing at work. It is inspired and supported from the top-down, but driven from the bottom-up by continuous learning and improvement. The result is lasting behavior change in people and a more productive work environment. To learn more, visit the website at: or email M. J. directly at:


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