I just chanced upon a good article on Toyota. See here. Just want to capture a few wonderful points:
- 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.
- The task is to do the task better.
- Improving something starts after fully understanding how it is currently done and hence what you’re trying to improve.
- 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”.