In 2004, Jeff Liker introduced the world to the principles of management at Toyota. Those principles were not only a great discovery for everyone outside Toyota but also for Toyota themselves, an organization that for decades has forged both a working culture and management principles at Gemba they themselves found difficult to explain. The elevated context and the discrete Japanese communication culture by no means helped Toyota communicate their management principles to and within their organization.
Jeff Liker’s publication in 2004, which we highly recommend you to buy here, assisted Toyota in reinforcing the explanation of the first internal document of only 14 pages, entitled “The Toyota Way”, shared with the entire organization three years earlier. It was Toyota´s President Mr Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the founder, who invited Jeff to the company’s headquarters to thank him for the publication of his book and to acknowledge the impact it has had in continuing learning and developing Toyota´s culture.
Today, we would like to share both the main lessons we have extracted from the book as well as those we have experienced at Gemba in these 16 years.
Before you start reading, please do not forget the gist of the Toyota Way. It is not about doing workshops, improvement events, or implementing tools. It is about a learning system where real practice happens every day at Gemba. Fujio Cho, explains it brilliantly in this excerpt
“Many good western companies have respect for individuals, practice continuous improvement and implement Lean. But what is important is having all of these elements together as a system. It must be practiced every day in a very consistent manner, neither casually nor without a pattern, but in a very concrete way so that it creates value”.
FUJIO CHO, PRESIDENT, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION 1999-2005