Indian Firms Learning From Toyota

Topic: Management Improvement

Taking A Page From Toyota’s Playbook, Business Week:

The goal for Wipro is to become the Toyota of business services. Toyota preaches continuous improvement, respect for employees, learning, and embracing change. “It’s the soft stuff that makes a big impact on the hard numbers,” says Kurien, a cheerful 45-year-old. There is plenty of hard-edged analysis, as well. To embrace Toyota’s methods, Kurien last year assigned teams to examine business processes, break them into discrete components, and come up with streamlined services to sell to clients.

Wipro also adopted Toyota’s kaizen system of soliciting employee suggestions for incremental improvements, and made The Toyota Way required reading.

The Toyota Way is an excellent book.

Wipro’s employees seem sincerely excited about their jobs — work that would likely be considered sheer drudgery by U.S. college grads. Take 28-year-old Priya, who has worked for Wipro for nearly seven years. She has already submitted a handful of kaizen, and is thrilled at how quickly her bosses respond. “Even though it’s something small, it feels good. You’re being considered,” she says.

This might not seem like a huge deal but it is critical to achieving true world class performance. To be compared to companies like Toyota, Dell, Intel and the like you need to change the way people at the company think. Not everyone at all times has to (these companies are not utopian oases from reality), but a significant number have to believe that they are valued and their contributions are making a difference for their co-workers, company and customers.

This article is only one more indication India is making significant progress. Obviously the macro economic statistics are showing great progress. Indian firms have also been making great strides winning more Deming Awards than Japanese firms the last few years.

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