Archive for December, 2007

Death from overwork – don’t slavishly follow toyota

Friday, December 7th, 2007

I am one of those people who, at times, propages practices inspired by the toyota way (e.g. lean software development). However, I also have my eyes and critical mind open – I don’t want to be part of a cargo cult, I want to practice and promote practices that make work both more effective and the results of the work more valuable, and make work more fun and sustainable.

A friend of mine recently mentioned a toyota employee who died from overwork. It took me a while to find the full story – at first I only found reports from 2002. Apparently, his widow won a lawsuit against toyota – his death is now officially declared ‘karoshi’ (the japanese word for overwork).

I recommend you watch this report:

CNN on death from overwork

The report not only shows the logs, but also points out the risk of modern practices, like people taking their laptop home or on the road, so there is no end to work.

As I am writing this on a laptop in a Toronto hotel room, I consider myself warned. How about you?