Harvard Business Review has a new article on Toyota that both the Elegant Solutions blog (by Matthew E. May author of Elegant Solutions: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation – via: lean blog) and Got Boondoggle, have raved about.
Amazing HBR Interview with Toyota President Watanabe on Elegant Solutions:
What’s Next for Toyota?, Got Boondoogle:
We will have more flexibility than ever before: Each line at Takaota will be able to produce eight different models, so the plant will produce 16 models on two lines compared with the four or five it used to produce on three lines. In the old plan we used to make 220,000 vehicles a year on each line; now we will be able to make 250,000 units on each line. Toyota needs such radical changes today.
For those people thinking they were catching up on Toyota that might not be good news. I suppose you could hope that Toyota will fail, but that doesn’t seem likely given past experience (and there continued vigilance). I don’t think we will see them spend $40 billion on robots and then decide they can’t make it work (GM in the 1980’s). But it is much easier to fail that succeed, so it is possible.
In a later post Matthew May also points to a new article by Kevin Dehoff and John Loehr, Innovation Agility:
By investing the shusa with these multiple roles, Toyota gives that person the authority to quickly and effectively make the necessary trade-offs between technical and cost requirements for the benefit of the program. But this shusa-style authority can be vested only in someone with the technical skills, business acumen, and managerial experience to warrant it. And developing such skills takes time: At Toyota, becoming a shusa is a 20-year process in which promising engineers, with a good 10 years of experience in a particular functional area, are promoted to assistant chief engineers, where they need another 10 years of seasoning before being promoted to shusa.
It is also well worth reading. Find more TPS related articles in the Curious Cat Management Library.