New Articles on Toyota Management

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:

Pick up the latest issue of Harvard Business Review (July/August double issue) for a real treat: a fantastic interview with Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe. This is a ground-breaking piece of journalism and revelation from the traditionally tight-lipped Toyota leadership, and Thomas Stewart does a truly masterful job of asking all the right questions. My hat’s off to him. And to President Watanabe, for truly candid answers. Rarely do you find leaders this frank, honest, and accountable.

What’s Next for Toyota?, Got Boondoogle:

The new manufacturing process at Takaota will completely change the way Toyota makes cars. We call them the “simple, slim, and speedy” production system. Right now our processes are complicated, so when a problem occurs, it is difficult to identify the cause.

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:

Toyota depends heavily on capturing and sharing the knowledge and experience of its people.

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.

Related: New Toyota CEO’s ViewsToyota Production System postsInterview with Toyota PresidentToyota Institute for ManagersToyota’s Real Secret?

2 thoughts on “New Articles on Toyota Management

  1. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I read on Amazon that,
    elegant solutions, as May correctly points out, “universally change the world’s attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and habits.” Efforts to formulate elegant solutions are guided and informed by three principles: ingenuity in craft, pursuit of perfection, and fit with society. “They’re the raison d’etre at Toyota, and nonnegotiable.”

    All good stuff, but possibly something that I didn’t already know?

  2. Pingback: CuriousCat: Toyota Execution Not Close to Being Copied

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