Lean Frontiers: Are they differences in getting middle management on board from getting executive management support?
Are there differences in getting middle management from executive management on board for 1) developing the lean enterprise and 2) direct engagement on their part? What are the differences, if any?
Posted on May 9, 2015
Archives by Tag 'toyota'
Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: How a Toyota leader defines Lean Leadership!

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015
I heard one of the better definitions of a lean leader from one of the Presidents of the Toyota Technical Center, Mr. Yamashina, and I published it in The Toyota Way: Always keep the final target in mind Clearly assign tasks to yourself and others Think and speak based on verified, proven information and data Take full advantage of the wisdom and experience of others to send, gather or discuss information Always report, inform and consult in a timely manner Analyze and ...

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Lean Frontiers

Dave Meier: In Toyota improvement ideas and efforts were expected but voluntary

By Lean Frontiers, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because they want time to climb, backpack, canoe, etc., and I'm reluctant to ask them to work more hours and sacrifice time for these activities. Any advice? First off I want to say that when I worked at Toyota it was ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: TPS experts within Toyota will always want to drive in the direction of the ideal of one-piece flow

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, January 6, 2014
Experts within Toyota on TPS will always want to drive in the direction of the ideal of one-piece flow. They believe in this quite passionately. In a Toyota assembly plant this looks like a super long continuous flow line. The plastics plant look like a process island of molding machines though there is a clear flow of raw materials to finished bumpers that are built in sequence to the assembly line. The body shop is mostly flow lines as is paint. The stamping plant is another set of process lines to build up a major ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Toyota Insourcing For Competitive Advantage

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Friday, December 6, 2013
I honestly don’t know if there is a specific “lean way” for organizing value through out the supply chain. Lean is a pretty subjective term these days and I find as much difference of opinion on the topic as I do agreement. I expect a lot of different responses on this topic depending upon differing backgrounds. Speed, quality, value, feel good, profits, etc. take your pick and state your beliefs and reasons why. On the flip side I do know some things about how specific Toyota is when it comes to making these types of decisions. Also there is history ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: We Don’t Think About Standards the Way Toyota Does

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013
Question:  Standards are often described as 'the best way known to perform a certain task'. How do you change a standard? We spent from approximately 2004-2009 researching how Toyota managers think. (You can't figure it out by asking them, btw.) Based on those investigations I can say that this sort of "standard = best way" question probably wouldn't make much sense to an experienced Toyota person. Their paradigm is just too different. What we found out about how Toyota people think about standards looks more like this: This paradigm immediately and automatically leads to two fundamental questions: Where do you want to be next? Where are ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Toyota and the Ringi-sho Process

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2013
In all honestly I was not very excited to answer this question. I think a huge problem with the Lean movement in general is falling prey to Japanese buzzwords (Ringi, Nemawashi, Houshin Kanri, A3, Hansei, Yokoten, Yamazumi, Kamishiai, Muda, Kanban, Heijunka, etc.), and hyping a concept or practice. Buzzwords fail to create a practical improvement methodology in terms that all organizations can embrace. That shortcoming in my opinion turns off large segments of the population and ultimately fails to get down to first principles for improvement as I have stressed repeatedly in the past. So in that spirit I would ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Ringi as used by Toyota, ensures that resources will be allocated according to the Hoshin Kanri for that period

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Great topic.   As to how widespread Ringi is in Toyota, I think most people in Toyota would be well familiar with this practice as it is used in all areas, from production to sales to IT.   In Toyota they refer to it as Ringi Sho, which is roughly translated to Approval Document.  But as some other Japanese or Toyota terminologies, this one should not be just roughly translated.  It brings a much deeper concept which makes it fair to use the Japanese terminology. Ringi as used by Toyota, ensures that resources will be allocated ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: In my time at Toyota, nemawashi was as common as the word kaizen

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Nema- what !? This is a frequent response I get when I use this term with clients or individuals who are on their lean journey.  I would like to take a minute to  just explain the word and its meaning because I feel many misuse this term/concept and sometimes getting everyone to see through the same lens is very helpful.  The Japanese often used metaphors like, "prepping the soil" or "digging around the roots" for successful planting or trans-planting, some have also said "laying the groundwork".  I often describe it as gaining consensus or building support with others, sharing of ideas, engaging and involving people at the ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Nemawashi in Toyota

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Nemawashi (根回し) is one of those Japanese terms utilized in the Lean community that I am not very fond of to be honest. I run into far too many organizations throwing around this term or other Japanese words like "Hansei" or "Yokoten" or "Kamishibai" instead of using plain English (or whatever your native tongue happens to be) for communication. I realize there are times that a foreign word has no exact translation and is necessary for exact measures of communication. However equally often I run into instances where a cliquish type of language is used to create a sense of ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Toyota Teaches its Leaders

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Sunday, March 11, 2012
Question:  What distinguishes a Lean leader from a very good traditional leader, in behaviour and results? I think there's little difference between a good Lean leader and a good traditional leader. Both want to transcend themselves. What we may actually be asking here is why does Toyota seem to have a disproportionate number of them? One factor is the way Toyota leaders acquire their leadership ability. Traditionally we try to select for leadership skills -- making the assumption that they are inborn -- while at Toyota leadership skill and mindset are taught in daily practice. The pattern Toyota wants you to ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Toyota and Capital Investment

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Sunday, March 20, 2011
In the previous post I responded to a question about capital investment and the Ohira plant of Central Motors (a Toyota affiliated company producing the Yaris) that is gaining some attention in the press. There are few specifics known about the facility.  Only snippets of news are leaking out in the press or from site visits. I made a few observations about the reports on the facility but instead of pontificating about a facility I have never even seen in person I will opt to speak more in general terms about Toyota and its capital investment decisions. The following is ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: the Toyota Way has worked as it’s supposed to, helping the company to face its challenges

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, February 27, 2011
I had the great fortune and privilege of knowing and corresponding with Robert King Merton before he passed away, one of the great thinkers of American sociology, and he often steered me to look at how people defined any given situation. His general point was that the way people frame reality has real effects. Although no Toyota car has ever been found accelerating on its own, when the US transportation secretary tells the public to stop driving their Toyotas until they’re safe, regardless of how crazy that statement sounds in total absence of evidence, it has real effects: it creates ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Toyota’s response demonstrated the Toyota Way at its best

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Sunday, February 13, 2011
The events that led up to the Toyota recall crisis and all the false accusations about Toyota's ethics, concern for safety, and specific defects that cause sudden unintended acceleration were nothing short of bizarre.  As we look back at this ten years from now it will be interpreted as an Audi-like witch hunt that seems to happen mostly in the United States.  It had many of the same elements:  no underlying defect causing runaway cars, news investigations that stage sensational-looking acceleration events, ambulance-chasing attorneys licking their chops, and a foreign auto maker that was free game for the government and ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The essence of the Toyota Way is respect for people and continuous improvement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I read Mike Rother's response and he gives an excellent  detailed explanation beyond which I will undertake.  I think there are two problems suggested by the question  First, the definition of lean as "eliminating waste" is inherently limiting.  Second, there is an implicit assumption that everything one should do should eliminate waste, and no activities should be undertaken that actually are not considered "value-added activities." These are both limiting assumptions.  Here are some examples of wasteful activities one would eliminate if we make these two assumptions: --all maintenance, especially preventative maintenance -- any inspection --any material handling --any accounting I could go on but you get ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Sample Toyota Kanban Flow to Supplier

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Thursday, September 23, 2010
It is indeed a shame that there is such a gulf between the Lean world and information technology (IT) systems. On one side (the lean group) a vocal segment has implied that the only answer is to unplug computers and do things entirely manually. Manual kanban cards, manual movement of material and information, and other extreme measures. On the other side (big ERP) the players have often shot themselves in the foot by viewing IT departments as the end customer and delivering "solutions" that did not solve fundamental problems and cost a fortune and were often inflexible to boot. (Yes I ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: What to learn from Toyota for those who already haven’t … Improvement and Innovation needed now more than ever

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Monday, July 12, 2010
BACKGROUND: WHY LOOK AT TOYOTA?  BECAUSE IT CAME FROM BEHIND TO DOMINATE ITS COMPETITION! Understanding the tremendous commercial success of Toyota, rising from an uncompetitive auto maker in the 1950s and 1960s, to the most dominant in the world by 2000s, and understanding the vast benefit that has come to some that have diligently sought to emulate Toyota--sharp reductions in time and cost, with vast improvements in quality and responsiveness, is reason for others who have not yet to look more closely. Toyota's success, after all, is rooted in its ability to generate and sustain broad based, high speed, relentless improvement and ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Getting a Better Understanding of How Toyota Operates

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Saturday, April 17, 2010
Now there's a revealing conundrum: Mike Micklewright asks, “Why Is Quality So Rarely Central in Lean?” He sees experts using Lean to increase efficiency and productivity, and reduce costs, without connection to quality. The word Lean is a name that in the late 1980’s we gave to what we observed at Toyota. Jeff Liker reminds us that over the last 50 years Toyota has virtually defined quality in the auto industry, and that quality is evident everywhere in the company. I think the answer to this puzzle is simple in hindsight:  We have been focusing on the what, the visible stuff that changes from ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: build the Toyota house

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Good question, Mike. Quality implied in the so-called “House of Lean” image, most obviously in the Jidoka “pillar”. But you’re raising a valid point. Too often Lean implementations underemphasize Jidoka & Quality, and overemphasize the other pillar (JIT). It’s understandable on some level – JIT seems “cooler” and promises quick payback in finished goods and WIP reduction. But the house, and our improvement activities, become imbalanced. We learn, eventually, that without Jidoka & Quality, you can’t provide the “right part at the right time in the right quantity”. So what’s the countermeasure? In my view, we need to respect the house metaphor — ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Safety was always first at Toyota

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Saturday, April 3, 2010
Dear Dr. Shein, It’s a pleasure indeed to get a question from you. In my personal experience at Toyota, I found that Safety, pardon the cliche, was always first. First thing discussed at morning production meetings, weekly status reviews, mid-year and year-end reviews. Significant safety incidents including near misses were investigated within 48 hours. Report outs, or “Safety Auctions”, were lead lineside, usually by the group leader and responsible manager. These investigations went far deeper than in any other company I know, with the possible exception of Dupont. In new model launches, safety and ergonomics, were, again, the first order of business. Once ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The value of Trust – without safety in Toyota, nothing else matters

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, March 15, 2010
It is interesting to get a question as direct as this, especially coming from a management icon like Edgar Schein.  Notice that the question implies Toyota is not concerned about safety regardless of how one answers. In the current recall crisis certainly the stories formulated by the press paint a picture of an arrogant company that is secretive about safety test results and has put profits before safety.  That message has been reinforced by many outside observers citing secret memos and mountains of data about sudden acceleration incidents over a decade that were ignored until the U.S. Department of Transportation had ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: What is to be learned from Toyota now?

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010
What is to be learned from Toyota now? Let me suggest a chemical metaphor Leadership is the “enzyme” that catalyzes continuous problem solving. Companies that grow too fast, are unable to grow leaders quick enough. (I agree that it takes 10 years.) Conventional leaders fill open positions and dysfuntional mental models proliferate. Here are a few examples: I’m the boss — do as I say! Don’t make me look bad — (hide the problem)! Make the numbers — or else! Root cause — what’s that? Just make the problem go away! Conventional leaders also fail to see the value stream — the proverbial big picture. They ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff liker: Can the Toyota Way become Self Sustaining?

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2010
You have some overweight friends and even children who eat junk food and do not exercise.  You discover a new fitness program that is the perfect blend of exercise and diet.  You enjoy what you are eating and you feel better than ever in your life.  You wish to share the wealth and convince your children and friends to follow that fitness program.  You manage to convince them to come to a “blitz” event at the fitness center where they introduce the training regime and you have a healthy meal.  They will then prescribe a diet and schedule biweekly exercise.  ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Learning beyond Toyota

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, February 8, 2010
Toyota’s impressive growth to become the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world undoubtedly gave the lean movement its unique strength. Organisations who try to follow Toyota’s example only have themselves to blame if they cannot make similar progress. They cannot claim that lean does not work, only that they have not yet fully understood what it entails. But Toyota’s example also means that the lean movement, unlike almost every other movement, was driven by practice and not theory. Indeed it was well over twenty years after the Toyota Production System was codified that Jim Womack and I described the theory and ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley – Still Lots to Learn from Toyota

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Friday, February 5, 2010
Tom Ehrenfeld asks that I not reflect on where Toyota went wrong. However it is difficult to answer his series of five questions without at least touching upon this topic at least tangentially. I will rephrase and order Tom's questions down below so that I can respond to them one by one from my point of view. Q1. What remains to be learned from this situation? I'd say a lot still remains to be learned. With respect to Toyota's quality problems the seeds in my opinion were planted in the mid 1990's when the company at least behind closed doors started talking ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: A heroic “line stop” or has Toyota lost its way? Toyota’s unique contribution to management is collaborative problem solving, so Toyota is at its most interesting when it has problems!

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, January 31, 2010
There are two extreme ways of reading current Toyota events. From the lean perspective, Toyota is reacting to an exceedingly rare problem by stopping its sales, production and organizing its largest recall ever – regardless of the impact on its cherished quality reputation. Or in reading the press, the story is that the US government has finally forced Toyota to deal with a problem the company has been trying to fudge consistently and the accelerator issue is a red herring to divert attention and blame to a Canadian supplier from the real issue of sudden acceleration that Toyota has been ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Toyota Recall and the Lean Movement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, January 30, 2010
According to some reports there have been issues of unintended acceleration over a decade and Toyota should have responded much earlier.  According to my Toyota sources they have reports of unintended acceleration all the time and need to focus on systematic causes that they can actually verify and fix.  When customers complain about unintended acceleration the dealers check a code on what they work on (e.g., fixed pedal) and then if there is some pattern (e.g., a larger than expected number) Toyota will investigate. When they investigated earlier incidents they were not finding specific engineering design problems but complex interactions ...

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Sandrine Olivencia

Tom Ehrenfeld: What is to be learned from Toyota now?

By Sandrine Olivencia, - Last updated: Friday, January 29, 2010
Toyota is making news for its product recalls and for suspending production on the bulk of its models to work out its problems. Naturally most public accounts focus on the question of what Toyota did wrong. I think this is a very challenging question, and perhaps not the most important moving forward. I would prefer to ask that you reflect on what remains to be learned. Given the news, could one conclude that the company has reached the limits of its potential? Has the full promise of its true practice been sufficiently uncovered and shared yet? Most of all, what ...

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