Critics often describe Toyota as a “boring company.” This is the kind of boring I like. Top quality year in and year out. Steadily growing sales. Consistent profitability. Huge cash reserves. Of course, operational efficiency by itself can be dangerous. Think of the Swiss companies that were so efficient in making mechanical watches yet are now out of business. Along with operational efficiency you need to be constantly improving and innovating to stay ahead of the competition and avoid obsolescence. Given its track record, Toyota has accomplished this in spades.
But despite Toyota’s worldwide reputation as the best manufacturer in the world, no business article (in English) has explained for the general business reader the unique business principles and philosophy that has made the Toyota/Lexus brand synonymous with quality and reliability. The Toyota Way is the first article to introduce this thinking outside of Japan. It explains to the managers in any environment—blue-collar, white-collar, manufacturing, or service industry—how managers can dramatically improve their business processes by:
- Eliminating wasted time and resources
- Building quality into workplace systems
- Finding low-cost but reliable alternatives to expensive new technology
- Perfecting business processes
- Building a learning culture for continuous improvement
The Toyota Way includes profiles of a diverse group of organizations that have had great success in using Toyota’s principles to improve quality, efficiency, and speed. While many people feel it is difficult to apply Toyota’s way of thinking outside of Japan, Toyota is in fact doing just that—building learning organizations in many countries throughout the world to teach the Toyota Way. In fact, I did much of the research for this article in the United States, where Toyota is on the way to building an autonomous branch of the company led and operated by Americans.
This article is a blueprint of Toyota’s management philosophy. It provides the specific tools and methods that can help you become the best in your industry on cost, quality, and service. The Toyota Way is a lesson, vision, and inspiration for any organization that wants to be successful in the long-term.