Tag: Culture

Toyota’s Culture – Inside Out

Comparing leadership cultures and creating change
Image by opensourceway via Flickr

As discussed on our Lean Roadmap page, the culture that exists inside your company will determine the success or failure of your lean initiatives in the long-term.  So, how do we cultivate and nurture this culture that we desire to achieve?

Fortunately, I found a great article,  How to implement “Lean Thinking” in a Business: Pathway to creating a “Lean Culture”, written by one of my recent twitter connections (lean practitioner and former Toyota employee) that briefly describes the process embraced by Toyota.

I will not paraphrase the content of the article if only to preserve the essence of the presentation and passion that is conveyed in its writing.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that Toyota does not typically refer to their methods as lean.  Lean is not a set of tools but rather a manner of thinking and focus on a seemingly elusive target to achieve one piece flow.

The spirit of Lean, like synergy, cannot be taught – only experienced.

An innate ability exists and continues to evolve where team members operate with a high level of synergy and are able to identify and respond to concerns in real-time.  Steven Spear also discusses various characteristics or attributes of high performance teams from a different perspective and much wider range of industries in his book “The High Velocity Edge“.

Toyota Recall – Update

Following the release of the NHTSA investigation, Bloomberg Businessweek published an article titled “Toyota, The Media Owe You an Apology“.  The article clarifies a number of allegations against Toyota, however, I am reminded that the government’s investigation did not completely exonerate Toyota from having any responsibility.

Whether the failure is mechanical or electronic is moot considering the tragic results that ensued for some.  I think the real concern is whether the problem itself has been identified and resolved regardless of fault.

Since we are on the topic of culture, consider the media’s role in reporting the events surrounding the recall.  What was your overall sense of the media’s reporting and perspective on this issue?

As you ponder this question, your answer will reveal how quickly events and people of influence can shape our culture.  On a much larger scale, consider the current events in Egypt or the last Presidential election in the United States.

As always, I appreciate your feedback – leave a comment or send us an e-mail.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Twitter:  @Versalytics
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5 New Paradigms for a Socially Engaged Company

I have discussed how company culture can significantly influence results.  Follow this link, 5 New Paradigms for a Socially Engaged Company, and prepare to be amazed.  How do these paradigms compare with your own?

Engaging your teams can be as significant as any new investment in technology.  How much of an improvement would we have to make in Overall Equipment Effectiveness or Labour Efficiency to yield the same results?

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

Vergence Analytics

twitter:  @Versalytics

Discover Toyota’s Best Practice

The new headquarters of the Toyota Motor Corpo...
The new headquarters of the Toyota Motor Corporation, opened in February 2005 in Toyota City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been impressed by Toyota’s inherent ability to adapt, improve, and embrace change even during the harshest times.  This innate ability is a signature trait of Toyota’s culture and has been the topic of intense study and research for many years.

How is it that Toyota continues to thrive regardless of the circumstances they encounter?  While numerous authors and lean practitioners have studied Toyota’s systems and shared best practices, all too many have missed the underlying strategy behind Toyota’s ever evolving systems and processes.  As a result, we are usually provided with ready to use solutions, countermeasures, prescriptive procedures, and forms that are quickly adopted and added to our set of lean tools.

The true discovery occurs when we realize that these forms and procedures are the product or outcome of an underlying systemic thought process.  This is where the true learning and process transformations take place.  In many respects this is similar to an artist who produces a painting.  While we can enjoy the product of the artist’s talent, we can only wonder how the original painting appears in the artist’s mind.

Of the many books that have been published about Toyota, there is one book that has finally managed to capture and succinctly convey the strategy responsible for the culture that presently defines Toyota.  Written by Mike Rother, “Toyota Kata – Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results” reveals the methodology used to develop people at all levels of the Toyota organization.

Surprisingly, the specific techniques described in the book are not new, however, the manner in which they are used does not necessarily follow conventional wisdom or industry practice.  Throughout the book, it becomes evidently clear that the current practices at Toyota are the product of a collection of improvements, each building on the results of previous steps taken toward a seemingly elusive target.

Although we have gleaned and adopted many of Toyota’s best practices into our own operations, we do not have the benefit of the lessons learned nor do we fully understand the circumstances that led to the creation of these practices as we know them today.  As such, we are only exposed to one step of possibly many more to follow that may yield yet another radical and significantly different solution.

In simpler terms, the solutions we observe in Toyota today are only a glimpse of the current level of learning.  In the spirit of the improvement kata, it stands to reason that everything is subject to change.  The one constant throughout the entire process is the improvement kata or routine that is continually practiced to yield even greater improvements and results.

If you or your company are looking for a practical, hands on, proven strategy to sustain and improve your current operations then this book, “Toyota Kata – Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results“, is the one for you.  The improvement kata is only part of the equation.  The coaching kata is also discussed at length and reveals Toyota’s implementation and training methods to assure the whole company mindset is engaged with the process.

Why are we just learning of this practice now?  The answer is quite simple.  The method itself is practiced by every Toyota employee at such a frequency that it has become second nature to them and trained into the culture itself.  While the tools that are used to support the practice are known and widely used in industry, the system responsible for creating them has been obscure from view – until now.

You can preview the book by simply clicking on the links in our post.  Transforming the culture in your company begins by adding this book, “Toyota Kata – Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results”, to your lean library.  I have been practicing the improvement and coaching kata for some time and the results are impressive.  The ability to engage and sustain all employees in the company is supported by the simplicity of the kata model itself. For those who are more ambitious, you may be interested in the Toyota Kata Training offered by the University of Michigan.

Learning and practicing the Toyota improvement kata is a strategy for company leadership to embrace.  To do otherwise is simply waiting to copy the competition.  I have yet to see a company vision statement where the ultimate goal is to be second best.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics

Instant Turnaround for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

Instant Turnaround

Did you know that your leadership style may be affecting your Overall Equipment Effectiveness?  A highly engaged and motivated workforce is the one single distinguishing trait of the top companies in industry today.  Most leaders and managers alike recognize that having the right people on the team are key to the success of their companies.  The vision and mission statements of many companies include statements like “… our people are our greatest asset …” or “… we will attract and retain the best talent …”  If we believe these statements are true , then we would envision a working environment where everyone is an engaged team member of a seamless organization that is fully supported by the management team.  Does this describe the culture of your organization?

What does this have to do with OEE?

LEAN is a CULTURE and one of the key metrics of lean is OEE.  So, could it be that OEE is a direct reflection of the culture that exists in your company?  What are the trends showing?  Does the data reflect a high-velocity company striving to improve its operations to become the new definition of agile or lean?  Who is leading the charge to improve performance?  Where is your team?  If your team isn’t behind you – where are they?

What motivates your employees to bring themselves to work everyday?   Their motivation to work is probably not the same as your reason for being in business.  This presents one of the first challenges that the management team will have to address – aligning company and employee goals where they become synonymous and mutually beneficial.  This doesn’t mean we’re going to rewrite the business plan, but rather, we relate how achieving company goals will enable the employee to achieve theirs.  The key is making your company the place where they want to work – a company they can be proud of and even more so because they are a part of its continuing success.

We contend that self-motivated employees work harder – they take the initiative to get things done – quickly.  Many operations are dependent on people who control their level of productivity.  It can be a difficult challenge to motivate people to work harder than their own perceived value.  The resistance to improve is rooted in the expectation that people will be required to do more work for the same value.  If you are operating in a union environment, the employees tend to be more sensitive to changes in their work structure.

In contrast to their external behavior, people want to be challenged and they are willing and wanting to do more.  However, they will not automatically give you their discretionary effort unless they have earned your trust and respect first.  Without it, they will only give you the value of what they think their time is worth.  Becoming interested in what people are doing, acknowledging their performance and treating them with respect is at the core of an instant turnaround.

When people become engaged and their achievements are recognized they will take ownership of their operation.  OEE results will improve as employees suggest ways to improve their processes and strive to achieve new goals.  None of this will happen unless the executives and senior management team take an active role to become part of the action.

How to get your Instant Turnaround

We just completed a review of Instant Turnaround:  Getting people excited about coming to work and working hardby Harry Paul and Ross Reck, PH.D.  You will learn how to tap into and harness the discretionary effort of everyone on your team.  This book tells a story that reveals how your leadership style and that of your front line management team affects and directly impacts the performance of your team.  This leadership style works.  A lean culture is dependent on the engagement and effective interactions of all of your employees – including the executive management.  This book teaches a simple yet powerful strategy to tap into and harness the discretionary effort that every employee is wanting and willing to give – if the conditions are right.

Get it now: Instant Turnaround!: Getting People Excited About Coming to Work and Working Hard

What is your leadership style?

A true leader is and holds people accountable, works with integrity, is approachable, listens, inspires, smiles, and even knows how to have fun.  The list of leadership traits and characteristics is long and many great leaders would count themselves as falling short on many of them.  If your team shares mutual respect and trust, you are working in great company.  If your team fears you, why should they stay?  Remember, most people want to belong to a winning team!  If you manage by walking around (MBWA), you will certainly have an opportunity to communicate your praise and expectations to your team.  They will respond in kind!

Until Next Time – STAY lean!