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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Lean in Sales starts with Genchi Genbutsu and PDCA

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Interesting notes from different perspectives.

The little I know about sales and its TPS practice comes from joint efforts when they were teamed up with us, production engineering, in my old days at Toyota.

1)      They did genchi genbutsu to its full extent.  A few examples:  Once, we went w/ sales people to the port of Santos in Brazil to follow up cars arriving from TMC to be sold in the Mercosur market.   Also, when in Japan, their first several weeks on the job included selling cars door to door.  Another example when I was in Toyota Venezuela, when they got a few complaints about some car scratches, they followed the delivery truck from the CKD plant all the way to the dealership.  In this instance we discovered the truck drivers were taking a shortcut that passed underneath a low hanging traffic light, damaging the body paint.

2)      They used PDCA the same way everyone else at Toyota did.  One example using the case of the scratched car: rather than just demanding truck drivers to follow the standard, they recognized the short cut was indeed a better route.  By rearranging the orientation of the cars at the top of the delivery truck, they could solve the problem and standardize the new route.

3)      They applied Heijunka and Muri/Mura concepts as much as planning and production people:  they were careful not to over promise as they knew working faster or ahead of time could cause the worst type of waste.   They had a good sense of how selling all they could now, could cause overtime today, idle time tomorrow.   An example is that some of the Toyota plants spent over a year without changing Takt, production volume however, changed month to month.

4)      They knew that good Planning makes execution easier, and Planning (as in the PDCA model) was attached with Nemawashi and subsequent Hansei.  In the recent case where the Space Shuttle Endeavour paraded through Los Angeles, TMS talked to TABC and other production areas to prepare them.  TMS knew that having the Tundra pull the Shuttle and showing that on TV, would spike the sales on the Tundra and perhaps steal capacity for other models.

As far as I can see, and I have a short vision as to what happens in sales, at Toyota sales they use TPS at great length.  They all knew really well most of the concepts we talked on the floor such as Andon, Kaizen Teian, Takt, PDCA, etc.

Now, why so much reluctance from other sales people against lean?  Why are they still not convinced?   I’m not sure, could it be perhaps that we are not selling it well?

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