Toyota Way

I just chanced upon a good article on Toyota. See here. Just want to capture a few wonderful points:

  1. The American idea of improvement would be to get a special engineering group, or some Six Sigma Black Belts to descend to a review and fix things as a one-off project. After which they would present their success in a PowerPoint all over the place. The Toyota way is where every single person, every single department, in every single day, continuously tries to do things better.
  2. The task is to do the task better.
  3. Improving something starts after fully understanding how it is currently done and hence what you’re trying to improve.
  4. There is a great story about an American employee who had a senior staff meeting with Fujio Cho, Chairman of Toyota worldwide. The employee spoke very positively about an activity that he has been doing. The response that he got was this: “And Mr. Cho kind of looked at me. I could see he was puzzled. He said, ‘Jim-san. We all know you are a good manager, otherwise we would not have hired you. But please talk to us about your problems so we can all work on them together.’”. This is absolutely amazing and a stark contrast to the all-too-often work culture of “don’t tell me about your problems, give me the solutions”.