Monday, August 09, 2004

Even Toyota needs good people

Even Toyota needs good people


Last Wednesday's Wall Street Journal had a front page article on Toyota's Quality Concerns (subscription may not get access to this link).   In summary, the article shows that even Toyota's legendary production system, the one after which all Lean models are built, struggles to keep up with its success.  Toyota's legendary quality has triggered so much growth that it is having a hard time maintaining quality. 


The hardest thing for them?  Having enough experienced coaches to go around.  Not enough teachers to train the next generation of production leaders.  A very human problem as many of the original lean sensei retire and as Toyota becomes more and more international. 


Many observers want to reduce Lean to a set of practices, such as Just-in-Time or kanban cards.  While these are highly visible aspects of Lean, at its core is people.  Good people, who know the system, have internalized it and can teach it, coach it, walk the talk, explain it.  Over and over.    And herein is Toyota's struggle. 


Pay attention to your own skills.  Learn all you can.  Learn it by showing others how to do it. 


And take heart.  Even the most prolific Lean machine ever turned loose struggles with the same thing.


I hope this is helpful. 


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