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Implementing Toyota’s 4Ps Guide

Leading the Change

Can We Avoid Politics in Lean Transformation? Changing to lean is a political process. There, we said it. Everyone knows politics are bad, right? Politics is what happens in organizations that are not being run rationally. A good, healthy organization […]

Lean Implementation Strategies and Tactics

Where Should You Start? You know your company needs an injection of lean. There’s waste everywhere. Upon serious reflection, you pretty much failed most of the tests. The culture is nowhere near the level that we describe as the Toyota […]

Telling the Story Using an A3 Report

Less Can Be More in Report Writing Problem solving is about thinking. But writing things down can help thinking. How can you document key information and decisions at each step in a way that you can share it with others, […]


WE HAVE FINALLY reached the implementation phase! Many people are so anxious to “get busy” with implementation that they shortcut the previous portions of the process. This is a critical mistake! Without a clearly defined prob-lem, how would you know […]

Consider Alternative Solutions While Building Consensus

JUST AS THERE ARE many potential causes and root causes for any problem, there is always more than one way to solve any problem! The creativity of the problem solver is an important aspect of the Toyota Way of thinking, […]

Complete a Thorough Root Cause Analysis

TOYOTA’S CORPORATE slogan is “Yoi shina, yoi kangai,” which means, “Good thinking, good products.” This applies particularly well to the analysis portion of problem solving. Toyota places high value on the ability to think logically and creatively because a solid […]

Situation and Define the Problem

Carefully Aim Before Firing In Toyota’s internal Toyota Way 2001 document they describe problem solving under the broad category genchi genbutsu—the actual part, the actual place. The discipline of carefully observing actual processes directly without preconception—with a blank mind—starts the […]

Problem Solving the Toyota Way

More Than Solving Problems The Toyota Way seeks to identify and remove obstacles on the path to perfection. This philosophy is rooted in the Japanese cultural desire to seek perfection in every activity. As we discussed earlier in the book, […]

Develop Suppliers and Partners as Extensions of the Enterprise

Supplier Partners in a Globally Competitive World It’s a tough time to be talking about supplier “partnerships.” With companies throughout the Western world looking at the prices of parts from China, India, Vietnam, Russia, Eastern Europe, and other low-wage countries, […]

Toyota Supply Systems

Companies working to learn from Toyota to build high performance supply systems seem to want to skip over the hard work of developing effective supplier partnerships, looking for easy solutions through supply chain software and aggressive price reduction approaches. Toyota’s […]

Toyota Supplier Partnering Characteristics

What follows are the seven characteristics of Toyota’s supplier partnering, as described in Table 12-1. We’ll look at them from bottom to top and discuss the steps you would need to follow to bring each element of the partnering relationship […]

Develop Exceptional Team Associates

“We Don’t Just Build Cars, We Build People” In most areas of life, you get out of something what you put into it. This is especially true when it comes to your associates. If you make little investment in this […]

Develop Leaders Who Live Your System

Success Starts with Leadership When we begin to work with companies, they want us to tour their plants and see what they’ve done with lean. The story typically goes like this: “We started down our lean journey seven years ago. […]

Make Technology Fit with People and Lean Processes

Back to the Abacus? “Lean is antitechnology.” “Those lean bigots are always bad-mouthing IT.” “If it were up to the lean dreamers we would scrap all our computers and even our pens are too high tech—they want pencil and paper.” […]

Build a Culture That Stops to Fix Problems

WE ARE FREQUENTLY asked, “What is it about the way Toyota does things that makes their quality consistently better than other car companies?” While there is no one simple answer to this question, it can be said that a large […]

Toyota Leveling Paradox

The Toyota Way is full of paradoxes, and one of the most counterintuitive is the leveling paradox: that slow and steady can beat fast and jerky, like the parable of the tortoise and the hare [which the older Toyota Production […]

Establish Standardized Processes and Procedures

Is Standardization Coercive? Standardized work evokes images of industrial engineers with stopwatches terrorizing the workforce by squeezing out every second of productivity. It brings to mind a highly regimented existence in which “big brother” is watching to make sure you […]

Create Connected Process Flow

One-Piece Flow Is the Ideal Taiichi Ohno taught us that one-piece flow is the ideal. In school when you have the right answer for the test you get an A. The right answer is one-piece flow. So just go out […]

Create Initial Process Stability

First Get to Basic Stability If you have not already been using lean methods and improving processes, in all likelihood your individual processes are unstable. Stability is defined as the capability to produce consistent results over time. Instability is the […]

Starting the Journey of Waste Reduction

Lean Means Eliminating Waste Getting “lean” has become a corporate buzzword. A corporate executive hearing about the success of his competitors with a lean program might say to a subordinate, “We must get lean to survive in this competitive market. […]