I’ve been privileged to live and sense the Toyota Gemba many times. At the Toyota Gemba, TPS (Toyota Production System) is the way people ‘think and act’ – in all aspects of the business. Its objective is to meet evolving customer needs by increasingly developing capable and engaged people.
By practicing and reflecting with senseis, I learned that TPS embodies several key elements, which, from my point of view, have not always been addressed clearly enough:
After many mistakes, I finally learned that it all starts with primarily focusing on achieving the ideal of continuous flow. For this journey, Kanban systems are key. Kanban are learning systems that help teams at all levels discover how to better «respond» to their customer.
The goal of continuously learning with Kanban is to achieve the entire value-creation process to be «pulled» based on what the real customer orders are and this process to happen without disruption and minimum (ideally 0) inventory.
Of course, it needs to happen end-to-end, from customers to suppliers since they are part of this never-ending process.
Following this bedrock principle of always striving for continuous flow, when experimenting with TPS out of Toyota, I had several fundamental and easy to share learnings which I thought might spark some reflection in those embarked in this journey:
I trust all these learnings are helpful for your next experimentations with TPS at Gemba.