Tag Archives: Toyota

How to Develop Thinking People

Toyota’s Top Engineer on How to Develop Thinking People

Hayashi says, “Developing people requires physical endurance.” Frequent follow up is necessary, in person. It is not acceptable to give an assignment and follow up or scold only after three months, during a progress report meeting. Specific actions and detailed follow up are necessary.

Excellent advice.

Also, when we are required to deliver results with speed, we only give our subordinates small projects so that even if they fail they have time to recover. In the end, we give them the solution. We must firmly carry on the practice of developing thinking people. Mr. Ohno often said to us, “Don’t look with your, look with your feet. Don’t think with you head, think with your hands.” He also taught us, “People who can’t understand numbers are useless. The gemba where numbers are not visible is also bad. However, people who only look at the numbers are the worst of all.”

And more wisdom. Great stuff from Taiichi Ohno, Nanpachi Hayashi and Jon Miller’s translation and great blog.

Related: Respect for People and Taiichi OhnoToyota IT for KaizenManagement ImprovementWorkplace Management by Taiichi OhnoPosts on Respect for People

Drucker’s Ideas at Toyota

The Drucker difference and Toyota’s success [the broken link was removed] by Ira A. Jackson, dean of the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management, the business school of the Claremont Colleges.

Because of this core belief in the power of people, Toyota invests in people. And at the same time, the company has come to realize that when people grapple with opposing views

Embrace contradictions as a way of life. Sticking to old practices can lead to rigidity. Be fluid.

Develop routines to resolve contradictions. As the authors note, “Unless companies teach employees how to deal with problems rigorously and systematically, they won’t be able to harness the power of contradictions.” Toyota has a number of tools including the well-known ask-why-five-times practice and the Plan-Do-Check-Act model.

Encourage employees to voice their opinions even if they are contrary. The people in top management must be open to hearing critical comments from employees and listening to opposing views if they want to engender new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Related: Drucker Opinion Essays from the WSJDeming and ToyotaManagement Pioneer Peter DruckerThe Contradictions That Drive Toyota’s SuccessExtreme Toyota: Radical Contradictions That Drive Success at the World’s Best Manufacturer

The Contradictions That Drive Toyota’s Success

An interesting article in this month’s Harvard Business Review looks at the seeming contradictions at Toyota – The Contradictions That Drive Toyota’s Success by Hirotaka Takeuchi, Emi Osono, and Norihiko Shimizu

Many of Toyota’s goals are purposely vague, allowing employees to channel their energies in different directions and forcing specialists from different functions to collaborate across the rigid silos in which they usually work. For example, Watanabe has said that his goal is to build a car that makes the air cleaner, prevents accidents, makes people healthier and happier when they drive it, and gets you from coast to coast on one tank of gas… Zenji Yasuda, a former Toyota senior managing director, points out the wisdom of painting with broad strokes. “If he makes [the goal] more concrete, employees won’t be able to exercise their full potential. The vague nature of this goal confers freedom to researchers to open new avenues of exploration; procurement to look for new and unknown suppliers who possess needed technology; and sales to consider the next steps needed to sell such products.”

A good explanation of how Toyota avoids the trap of arbitrary numerical goals (Innovation at Toyota).

Toyota’s eagerness to experiment helps it clear the hurdles that stand in the way of achieving near-impossible goals. People test hypotheses and learn from the consequent successes and failures. By encouraging employees to experiment, Toyota moves out of its comfort zone and into uncharted territory.

This is another key point often overlooked. Experimentation is key to gaining knowledge and improving. And they have steadily improved their method of experimentation building on the PDSA/PDCA cycle:

Toyota organizes experiments using strict routines, as is widely known. It has refined Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), the continuous-improvement process used throughout the business world, into the Toyota Business Practices (TBP) process. The eight-step TBP lays out a path for employees to challenge the status quo: clarify the problem; break down the problem; set a target; analyze the root cause; develop countermeasures; see countermeasures through; monitor both results and processes; and standardize successful processes. Similarly, the A3 report… forces employees to capture the most essential information needed to solve a problem on a single sheet that they can disseminate widely.

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Outsourcing To America

Outsourcing To America

Toyota (TM) began operating in North America in the mid-1980s. It currently operates seven automotive plants there, four of which are in the U.S. A fifth plant is under production in Mississippi. Toyota employs 40,000 manufacturing employees in North America.

In addition to the manufacture of cars and trucks, Toyota runs four unit factories in the U.S., where they produce such parts as engines, transmissions and wheels. Toyota also has a wholly owned subsidiary, Bodine Aluminum, an aluminum casting company, which operates three factories in Tennessee and Missouri.

BMW began operations in the U.S. in 1994, when it opened a plant in Spartanburg, S.C. “Some natural hedging was always a part of the long-term strategy, but also we have a corporate strategy of having production follow the market,” says Robert Hitt, BMW’s manager of public affairs. “Our original plan was to have about 2,000 workers here by the year 2000. We are now at 5,400 people here on the site.”

Besides the actual manufacturing of their cars and trucks, Toyota and BMW are using domestic suppliers to provide parts and services for their operations. BMW has over 200 suppliers in North America, 52 of which are located in South Carolina, and 41 of these are new companies started for the purpose of supplying the plant. In South Carolina alone, suppliers of BMW’s Spartanburg plant employ over 14,000 people.

Toyota uses roughly 500 major suppliers in North America. “We’ve always had the philosophy that we should build vehicles where they are sold, so it makes sense to have suppliers close to your manufacturing operations,” says Mike Goss, external affairs manager for Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing division in North America.

Foreign production in the U.S., however, is not limited to the automotive industry…. In fact, almost 1 million Americans get their paychecks from Mexican companies, says Ton Heijmen, senior adviser for outsourcing and offshoring for the Conference Board.

Related: Top 10 Manufacturing Countries 2006Moving Jobs to Silicon Valley from IndiaGlobal Manufacturing Jobs DataToyota in the United States of America EconomyChina Outsourcing Manufacturing to USA

Toyota Execution Not Close to Being Copied

The Open Secret of Success

Toyota’s innovations, by contrast, have [focused] on process rather than on product, on the factory floor rather than on the showroom. That has made those innovations hard to see. But it hasn’t made them any less powerful.

At the core of the company’s success is the Toyota Production System, which took shape in the years after the Second World War, when Japan was literally rebuilding itself, and capital and equipment were hard to come by. A Toyota engineer named Taiichi Ohno turned necessity into virtue, coming up with a system to get as much as possible out of every part, every machine, and every worker. The principles were simple, even obvious – do away with waste, have parts arrive precisely when workers need them, fix problems as soon as they arise. And they weren’t even entirely new – Ohno himself cited Henry Ford and American supermarkets as inspirations. But what Toyota has done, better than any other manufacturing company, is turn principle into practice. In some cases, it has done so with inventions, like the andon cord, which any worker can pull to stop the assembly line if he notices a problem, or kanban, a card system that allows workers to signal when new parts are needed.

Very true, except one thing. Toyota’s innovation is not limited to process and execution. Toyota’s long term vision results in very dramatic innovation (that granted is not getting the press today – check back in 20 years, I think you will be reading about it then). For some examples see: Toyota’s Partner Robot, Toyota as Homebuilder, Toyota Engineers a New Plant: the Living Kind and The Birth of Prius.

A company truly driven by a focus on continual improvement, respect for all employees and reasonable executive compensation might be a company serious about adopting Deming and Toyota management principles. It is hard for me to imagine such a situation that doesn’t truly seek, as the primary aim of the organization, to benefit many stakeholders (workers, owners, suppliers, customers…) not just executives (or just executives, board and owners…).

Related: Toyota Management Develops the New CamryBetter and DifferentDeming and ToyotaToyota Keeps ImprovingMore Positive Press for Toyota ManagementGood Execution is Important

Toyota Canada CIO on Genchi Genbutsu and Kaizen

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

Toyota Building Second Plant in India

Toyota is investing $350 million in a second Indian manufacturing plant. The plant is focused on producing vehicles for the local market – as the Toyota Production System suggests that production be close to the market.

Toyota to invest Rs1,400 crore for “strategic” small car in India

The new plant will have a production capacity of 100,000 units and will become operational by 2010, he added. The company’s current plant has a capacity of 63,000 units a year.

The plant will make the Corolla sedans along with the small cars The company plans to have high level of localisation for the small car by procuring several components and sub-systems from Indian vendors. Primarily the car maker plans to sell the small car in the fast growing domestic market, though some will be exported as well, the company stated.

The Japan-based automaker said last year that it plans to capture 10 per cent of India’s market. In 2007 Toyota sales accounted for a mere 0.6 per cent of the Indian car market

Related: Manufacturing Takes off in IndiaToyota Chairman Comments on India and ThailandTop 10 Manufacturing Countries 2006Indian companies have received as many awards as companies from all other countries combined since 2000Toyota to Build New Plant in India to Make Small CarsTVS Group Director on India – Manufacturing, Economy

Toyota’s Commitment

From Toyota’s blog, Living Up to Our Commitment

We’ve received reports that on a small number of model-year 1995 to 2000 Tacomas, excessive corrosion of the frame has caused perforation of the metal. The reason for this, it appears, is that the frames of some of the 813,000 vehicles built during this time-frame may not have adequate corrosion protection.

Because of our oft-stated commitment to standing behind our products, we’re extending the rust-perforation warranty covering these trucks for a period of 15 years from each vehicle’s original date of purchase, with no mileage limitation, for corrosion damage that results in perforation of the vehicle’s frame material. Owners of these Tacomas need not be the original owners. Even if you bought your Tacoma second- or third-hand, it’s covered by this extended warranty.

Once again Toyota shows what it means to go beyond the traditional way of thinking (where often MBA bean-counters and lawyers decide what should be done) instead of someone interested in having the company actually live up to a higher mission. From a previous post on their blog:

The Toyota Way is a management philosophy involving 14 principles that is the essence of the DNA of our organization and really all those who make up the company. In its basic form, the Toyota Way boils down to two fundamental practices: Respect for People and Continuous Improvement.

Related: Toyota IT OverviewDeming CompaniesReacting to Product ProblemsToyota Management Develops the New CamryCorporate BloggingDell Innovation

Management Improvement Carnival #30

Please submit your favorite management posts to the carnival. Read the previous management carnivals.

Car Powered Using Compressed Air

car powered using compressed air

Jules Verne predicted cars would run on air. The Air Car is making that a reality. The car would be powered by compressed air. Certainly seem like an interesting idea. Air car ready for production:

Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn’t have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.

The car is said to have a driving range of 125 miles so by my calculation it would cost about 1.6 cents per mile. A car that gets 31 mpg would use 4 gallons to go 124 miles. At $3 a gallon for gas, the cost is $12 for fuel or about 9.7 cents per mile. I didn’t notice anything about maintenance costs. I don’t see any reason why the Air Car would cost more to maintain than a normal car. Five-seat concept car runs on air

An engineer has promised that within a year he will start selling a car that runs on compressed air, producing no emissions at all in town.

Tata is the only big firm he’ll license to sell the car – and they are limited to India. For the rest of the world he hopes to persuade hundreds of investors to set up their own factories, making the car from 80% locally-sourced materials.

“Imagine we will be able to save all those components traveling the world and all those transporters.” He wants each local factory to sell its own cars to cut out the middle man and he aims for 1% of global sales – about 680,000 per year. Terry Spall from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says: “I really hope he succeeds. It is a really brave experiment in producing a sustainable car.”

Now does that sound like the Toyota Production System to you? It should. If I were an executive at Toyota I would sure examine this to see if it really is as promising as it looks. And if it is Toyota sure has plenty of cash and the management practice to make a very compelling case for allowing Toyota to produce this globally. The engineers desires closely match what Toyota has learned. Both seek to eliminate the waste of transportation (friction).

Related: Click Fraud = Friction for GoogleManufacturing Takes off in IndiaElectric Automobiles