Toyota Canada CIO on Genchi Genbutsu and Kaizen

Posted on April 24, 2008 3 Comments

What’s driving Toyota Canada’s success? – CIO reveals all

for Hao Tien, chief information officer (CIO) at Toyota Canada Inc. those two Japanese phrases – Genchi Genbutsu (go and see) and Kaizen (continuous improvement) really capture it all.

the innovation wasn’t in the technology, but in the way the various partners were brought together to agree upon processes, which were then consistently executed. CustomerOne is only project of its kind in the Toyota empire.

A computer system links activities across multiple customer touch points, and analyzes data from the more than 13,000 daily service visits to Toyota dealers across the country. The system flags major repeat problems and Toyota Motor Corp. head office in Japan is informed so engineers can be assigned to make repairs to designs or manufacturing, if necessary.

“For instance if a call comes into us at Toyota Canada, the dealer knows about it. So if they go back to the dealer for services, everyone offers the same resolution of the problem.” In the four years since its launch CustomerOne was has been a runaway success. Tien cites some of the more tangible benefits this initiative has brought about. They include:

* Cutting down the customer problem resolution from weeks to an average of three days through this initiative alone;
* Early detection of customer dissatisfaction in services
* Reducing detection of product defects (from months to days).

The Toyota Canada CIO talks about the tremendous business benefits from this seamless freeflow of information. “When a defect is detected at the dealership, the next day it would up to our engineering department.” The speed at which information traverses is of immense value – especially when new vehicles are launched. Tien cited an example.

“We recently launched a new Toyota Corolla [model]. If there were a problem with a door knob of the vehicle, the plant would know about it and a fix would be put in place.”

An article well worth reading. Related: Toyota IT OverviewLessons from Toyota’s IT StrategyGood Customer Service Example at ToyotaSoftware Supporting Processes Not the Other Way Around

Kaizen – Yahoo Mail Style

Posted on September 19, 2007 1 Comment

Yahoo Mail Innovates, Gmail Stagnates

Yahoo Mail has begun rolling out of beta after releasing an onslaught of innovative feature improvements along the way. On the other hand, a whopping three years into their beta release, Gmail remains one of the most popular but stagnant web-based beta email apps around.

To me Yahoo is really continually improving the service, not innovating. Still an interesting exploration of visible improvement.

Related: Kaizen OnlineKaizen definitionInnovation ExamplesGoogle Innovation webcast

How to Avoid Kaizen

Posted on June 13, 2007 No Comments

‘Disillusioned’ surgeon quits UK:

In the theatre anaesthetists at the James Paget Hospital prepared the next patient while he was operating on another. He said: “I found I was wasting time between operations so I came up with this solution. Now I don’t waste any time and I have no waiting lists.

“After I won my award, I met Tony Blair. He said he would send someone from the Department of Health and that happened only after six months. They came but nothing happened.

Giving awards can serve to highlight the behavior leadership want to encourage (especially when trying to encourage new behavior the leader often has to make it visible what they value). Taking 6 months for someone to show up and then nothing happening really sends a message on what is valued. Shows of support only are valuable if backed up with actual support. When someone would ask Dr. Deming, I tried to get my organization to do what they should but I did x and y and z… but I can’t make any progress what should I do. He often said: quit. Go work for an organization that will do the right thing. This Doctor adopted that strategy. By the way if you actually go the the article you will see the Doctor says:

“The reason for that is very simple – there are no incentives for surgeons to become more efficient. If we don’t have performance-related pay, why should we change?”

Hmm, well I don’t agree with that at all. Oh well, that is the challenge of looking at management ideas in practice, I often see good points mixed in with things I don’t agree with. Via: Doctor who cut waiting times to zero quits – NHS shocker

Related: Change Health CareUK National Health System ManagementFixing the Health Care System from the InsideProblems with Bonuses


Posted on May 21, 2007 No Comments

Great post – Do Kaizen Like Toyota:

Standardize how you solve problems… This is where following a standardized approach to problem solving based on the scientific method can help keep your kaizen efforts on track. Not to be prescriptive, but the PDCA wheel is hard to beat.

Very true.

Kaizen Online

Posted on February 15, 2007 1 Comment

Kaizen, That Continuous Improvement Strategy, Finds Its Ideal Environment by Hal R. Varian

Kaizen doesn’t just mean a business should keep trying new things. Rather, it refers to a disciplined process of systematic exploration, controlled experimentation and then painstaking adoption of the new procedures. In the original formulation, kaizen was applied to manufacturing, where experimentation could determine whether a new process resulted in quality improvements or cost savings in a matter of months.

The most successful online businesses are built on kaizen, though few of those who carry out the testing would recognize the term, since many of those who created these online businesses were in grade school in the 1980s.

Old media just do not understand online kaizen. Their perceptions are tied to the print world, where design changes are costly. The Wall Street Journal spent years planning its recent redesign of the print edition and millions of dollars rolling it out. Yet it will be months before it becomes clear how successful these changes were.

The advantages to experimentation on web applications are huge. I am also reminded of my paper from 1999: Using Quality to Develop an Internet Resource.

Via: Kaizen for Web Pages

Related: Be Thankful for Lean ThinkingManagement Consulting web sites (like the old media he mentions)Our Policy is to Stick Our Heads in the SandPatent Review InnovationPlanet Kaizenkaizen definition

10 Kaizen Tips

Posted on August 12, 2006 No Comments

Kaizen Hot-Wash

Lesson 6. Pick the right lean tool for the job and use it well.
There are plenty of lean tools to choose for kaizen activities so your MUST determine the right tool and use it well. In our case, the spaghetti diagram was the best tool. It was simple to use although extremely time consuming for the large amount of travel in our process. The spaghetti diagram quickly showed the team the best areas for opportunity and was a great visual for comparison of layout options.

Lean Concepts and Tools:

The Birth of the Kaizen Blitz

Posted on July 19, 2006 No Comments

The Birth of the Kaizen Blitz

What happens when productivity improves to the point where fewer people are needed? Bodek says a layoff is a mistake. He says that Toyota, rather than eliminating the poorest performers, takes the best performers from a cell and gives them something more creative to do. It’s the human side of lean that provides the payoff.

Kaizen the Toyota Way

Posted on July 17, 2006 No Comments

Excellent post: Kaizen Secrets of the Toyota Mind by Jon Miller:

The Toyota mind asks “What does my customer want from this process?” rather than “What do I want from this process?”

The Toyota mind builds brilliant processes that enable average people to be high performers, rather than flawed processes that enable even brilliant people to be only average performers.

Jon Miller has also been posting several items on the Words of Taiichi Ohno Sensei that have excellent material, including:

If you are going to do TPS you must do it all the way. You also need to change the way you think. You also need to change how you look at things.

Forever and ever, neither tiring nor ceasing.

Toyota IT for Kaizen

Posted on June 22, 2006 3 Comments

How Toyota Uses Information Technology (IT) for Kaizen by Jon Miller. He quotes Toyota’s CIO from the Japanese article:

Part of my job as CIO is to take on these company-wide issues and use this data to make improvement suggestions when I have an opportunity to meet with the managing executives.

Of course, it requires more than me making suggestions for Toyota to make good use of IT. The departments who are the users of information technology must be motivated for IT use to spread. Fortunately, the departments who are users of information technology frequently contact me to ask “Can we use IT for this?”

Working in Information Technology myself I see many great uses for IT. I also see all sorts of poor attempts to try creating IT tool for quality (including lean) tools that work much better in there original state. Read more

More Kaizen

Posted on June 14, 2006 1 Comment

More Kaizen – Why Not Eleven?:

We also talk about lean production and Toyota methods and how far you have to go. He tells me about a course he did where the company took him out of work for a couple of days and sent him to another plant where they showed him how to work an assembly line station, then set him to come up with 5 improvements for the process before lunchtime.When he delivered they said, what about another 5. Then it was come back in the morning with 10 more. When he delivered 10 they said, “why not 11?” Then he got it. Kaizen is not just taking millions of little steps, it is not just doing it because the boss says so, it is not even because you take pride in your work and you want to do the best job you can, its because you do everything with your customers and their needs in mind.

Read more

Kaizen Event Research Project

Posted on June 5, 2006 2 Comments

NSF Funded Kaizen Event Research Project

First, this research seeks to identify the most important factors influencing successful outcomes (both technical and social)…The second objective investigates the sustainability of Kaizen events over time.
The research team has visited numerous organizations utilizing Kaizen events across
multiple areas. Leaders in some organizations acknowledge that some areas will quickly (within 6 months to one year) revert back to the pre-Kaizen performance levels. Yet other organizations appear successful in sustaining results, even improving them further over time. Thus, this research will seek to identify the most important factors influencing sustainability of outcomes.

There is an opportunity to have your organization studied – see the article for contact details. Companies involved in textile manufacturing, food processing, or other continuous manufacturing process industries are of special interest.

Description on NSF web site

The NSF Innovation and Organizational Change (IOC) program supports scientific research directed at advancing understanding of how individuals, groups and/or institutional arrangements contribute to functioning, effectiveness and innovation in organizations.

Kaizen Priorities

Posted on March 16, 2006 No Comments

Kaizen Priorities by Mike Wroblewski:

Priority 1: Kaizen your bottleneck station first – If you don’t know what is your bottleneck station, find it. There are many ways to find your bottleneck: all the inventory is piled in front of it, people downstream are waiting on it, it has the most overtime, it’s a top maintenance priority, etc.

Another excellent post from Got Boondoggle.

Executives Participating in Kaizen Events

Posted on March 1, 2006 No Comments

The Masco Mapmakers by Bill Waddell

Guys from Brasscraft or Morgantown Plastics might go to a Delta faucet plant for the event – and note that these are executives, not factory level folks – that spend the week working on the kaizens. Of course, the Grand Kaizens are not the only ones. Individual plants hold their own kaizens by the hundreds. The primary purpose of the Grand Kaizen is to spread the lean message throughout the company. They learned that having the top people work hands-on in a kaizen was a lot more effective than sitting them down in a big room and subjecting them to a Power Point description of lean.

Getting executives to participate is a great way to have them learn a new way of thinking.

Masco Companies Learn Lean Manufacturing and Improvement Methods

Lean thinking articles

Planet Kaizen

Posted on December 18, 2005 1 Comment

Toyota has a section on their web site called Planet Kaizen: “what happens when you dig a little deeper and peel back the sheet metal to discover what makes a Toyota a Toyota.”

It requires flash to view Planet Kaizen. I think it has amazingly bad visual controls (as do many flash applications). I can’t figure out why it would be done in flash – other than some marketing person, or IT person, thought it would be cool. I certainly don’t see how kaizen practices could have produced such an application. It seems to me one of the examples of how far Toyota still has to go.
Read more

Project Kaizen Co-Blogging Week

Posted on December 6, 2005 No Comments

The Project Kaizen Co-Blogging Week has started. The posts in the first day have been interesting. Including, Improving Workgroups:

The result is individuals doing individual work. People create their own training materials because the corporate materials “are proprietary” and there’s too much risk in sharing them (a ridiculous concept since the company in question hardly invented lean, the slides were all borrowed from outside lean knowledge, yet now this company doesn’t want to follow Toyota’s model by sharing).

There’s an enormous amount of waste that’s created because the company doesn’t use available technology (web-based or otherwise) to create a true TEAM of lean consultants. The consultants should be posting case studies, helping each other with problems, and coaching each other, all in the name of continuous improvement and kaizen.

I completely agree.

Related posts:

Toyota Understands Robots are Best Used to Enhance the Value Employees Provide

Posted on April 8, 2014 No Comments

Toyota has always seen robotics as a way to enhance what staff can do. Many USA executives think of robotics as a way to reduce personnel. Toyota wants to use the brainpower of employees to continually improve the organization. Toyota wants to free people for monotonous or dangerous work to let them use their minds.

Humans Steal Jobs From Robots at Toyota

Humans are taking the place of machines in plants across Japan so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process.

“We cannot simply depend on the machines that only repeat the same task over and over again,” Kawai said. “To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.”

Kawai, 65, started with Toyota during the era of Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System envied by the auto industry for decades with its combination of efficiency and quality. That means Kawai has been living most of his life adhering to principles of kaizen, or continuous improvement, and monozukuri, which translates to the art of making things.

“Fully automated machines don’t evolve on their own,” said Takahiro Fujimoto, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Manufacturing Management Research Center. “Mechanization itself doesn’t harm, but sticking to a specific mechanization may lead to omission of kaizen and improvement.”

We need more companies to learn from the executives at Toyota. They show real respect for people. They are not focused on how much they can extract from the corporate treasury to build themselves castles at the expense of other employees, customers and stockholders as far too many USA executives are.

Toyota has been extremely innovative in investing in robotics as human assistants (partially this is due to the extreme demographic problems Japan faces): Toyota Develops Thought-controlled WheelchairToyota’s Partner RobotToyota Winglet – Personal Transportation Assistance.

Related: Webcast on the Toyota Development ProcessDon’t Hide Problems in ComputersAkio Toyoda’s Message Shows Real Leadership

Management Improvement Carnival #201

Posted on November 1, 2013 1 Comment

The Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival has been published since 2006. The carnival, has been published twice a month – but will now be published once or twice a month depending on how things work out. I hope you find the post included in this edition interesting and find some new blogs to add to your blog/RSS reader. Follow John Hunter online: Twitter and elsewhere.

  • Where do “Value Stream Maps” come from? by Michel Baudin – “Toyota alumni confirmed that you rarely see a Materials and Information Flow diagram (VSM) within Toyota, and explained that the tool was developed at Toyota’s Operations Management Consulting Division, for selective use with suppliers”
  • Management is a role. Leadership is an act. by Jamie Flinchbaugh – “The point is, stop worrying about whether you’re a ‘leader’ or a ‘manager’ and just focus on doing whatever you do better.”
  • photo of a floating football pitch

    Football (soccer) pitch at floating village in Thailand, by John Hunter.

  • How You Measure = How You Manage by Christian Buckley – “Each method of calculation has implications and limits, as does the source of the data. To be relevant, the measures have to be understood by those using them.”
  • Improvement is a Learning Process by John Hunter – Dr. Deming: “Improvement of Quality and Productivity, to be successful in any company, must be a learning process, year by year, top management leading the whole company.”
  • Read more

Management Improvement Carnival #200

Posted on October 1, 2013 2 Comments

The Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival has been published since 2006 and this is the 200th edition. The posts selected for the carnival focus on the areas of management improvement I have focused on in the Curious Cat Management Improvement Guide since 1996 (17 years now, which I find pretty amazing): Deming, lean thinking, leadership, innovation, respect for people, customer focus, etc..

  • Eiji Toyoda – the Master Innovator by Bill Waddell – “He was a master innovator in the days when innovation wasn’t cool, and his focus was not so much on the product as it was on the processes – on management.”
  • The Man Who Saved Kaizen by Jon Miller – “Eiji Toyoda led from the front. His message to leaders within Toyota: ‘I want you to use your own heads. And I want you actively to train your people on how to think for themselves.'”
  • photo of Bill and John Hunter balancing on a log on a beach in Malaysia

    Dad, Bill Hunter and me in Malaysia.

  • The consumer is the most important point on the production-line by John Hunter – “The continued view of the organization as a hierarchical pyramid of authority and responsibility hides the connection of the customer/user to the processes in our organizations.”
  • Lean IT at Toyota by Pierre Masai – “educate yourself on the subject, since so many stories of dramatic or step-by-step improvements do exist out there. Then, soon after, experiment yourself. This is the basis of TPS. Make sure you also get enthusiastic people on board, and take the support of experienced external coaches if you need this to get started. Create a culture within your company where the principles of lean become embedded in everything you do.”
  • Read more

Management Improvement Carnival #198

Posted on August 2, 2013 1 Comment

The Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival has been published since 2006. The carnival, has been published twice a month – but will now be published once or twice a month depending on how things work out. I hope you find the post included in this edition interesting and find some new blogs to add to your blog/RSS reader. Follow John Hunter online: Google+, Twitter and elsewhere.

  • Observations From A Tipless Restaurant by Jay Porter – “Our ability to make sure team members in all parts of the house were taken care of, and to remove tip-related squabbling from our business, gave us a huge competitive advantage in the marketplace; this in turn allowed us to serve a much higher quality of food and take lower margins on it.”
  • An open letter to Jeff Bezos: A contract worker’s take on by Steve Barker – “As experienced temps left and new ones rolled in, the breakdown began. Temps who had not paid attention in training were now training new temps. Different temps were teaching different techniques and it wasn’t long before the quality of work suffered. As witness to the poor quality, I made a few attempts to express my concerns, but none of my suggestions were implemented. When one of the higher-ups checked our work and realized that mistakes were being overlooked, performance scorecards were implemented.”
  • Change has to Start from the Top – webcast, included here, with David Langford: “You are the top of your system. Change your thinking, change your process – you change your system. As soon as you start to modify your system you are going to have an effect on the larger system: the way you organize, the way you manage what you do everyday, how you process the work that you are doing [will impact the larger system].”
  • No filter: the meanest thing Paul Graham said to a startup – “the vast majority of teams have the opposite problem: people filter their thoughts too much. The psychological and social incentives to do so are quite strong: we don’t want to go against the team, or we’re worried about giving offense, or we don’t want to be ‘the bad guy’… And that has a corrosive effect on culture.” [I agree – “I wish more people objected to bad ideas instead of just letting them go because they were afraid of being seen as negative.” – John]
  • Read more

Management Improvement Carnival #197

Posted on July 15, 2013 No Comments

Mark Graban is hosting the 197th edition of the Management Improvement Carnival on his Lean Blog, highlights include:

  • Michel Baudin’s Blog – “The Toyota Way 2001: the Necronomicon of Lean“: Michel wrote a great post about reflections on the internal “Toyota Way” document that was created in 2001. He says, “A document of this type about the way a company does business gives employees a framework to understand management decisions and business processes. The challenge in publishing it — even if only for employees — is to actually say something without binding management to courses of action that may become inadequate as business conditions evolve.”
  • ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value (Helen Zak) – “America’s Most Dangerous Industry“: The Center’s COO asks, “Did you know healthcare is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States?” She continues with some data and more excellent questions: ”Is worker safety the problem or is it a symptom? While all organizations say, “people are our greatest asset, ” few really have a culture that demonstrates that. How can you tell? One way to tell is the worker injury rate.”
  • Lifehacker – “Turn a Shampoo Bottle into an Over-the-Sink Sponge Holder“: A fun example of a small “hack” to make something better in your home. It reminds me of Kaizen, using creativity over capital. I like little things like this. In the post comments, a reader suggests punching holes in the holder to avoid a stinky sponge or mold. In Kaizen, it’s great to build upon and continue improving the improvement ideas of others.

Vist the Lean blog to see the rest of the great management blog posts shared in this edition of the management blog carnival.

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