Decoding the DNA of the TOYOTA Production

Decoding the DNA of the TOYOTA
Production System
Written By: Steven Spear and H.Kent Bowen
*Winner of Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research presented by Jon M.
Huntsman School of Business
Presenters: Tom Kertesz
Jomi Kramer
The Study of TOYOTA
• Conducted over four years
• Over 40 Plants
• USA, Europe, Japan
• Observation of routine production, discrete
manufacturing, and service functions
The system’s development
• Hard to understand
• Unwritten
• Natural progression
• 50 years of experience
Community of Scientists
• Quantifiable specifications
• Problem solving
• Experimentation
Why is it difficult to decode the Toyota
Production System?
• The observers confuse tools and
practices with the system itself
• Paradox – rigidly scripted vs. flexible
and adaptable
• Constant change and improvement
The Four Rules of TOYOTA
1. All work shall be highly specified as to content,
sequence, timing, and outcome
2. Every customer-supplier connection must be
direct and there must be an unambiguous yes-orno way to send requests and receive responses
3. The pathway for every product and service must be
simple and direct
4. Any improvement must be made in accordance
with the scientific method under the guidance of a
teacher, at the lowest possible level in the
The Four Rules of TOYOTA
1. All work is highly specified
The Four Rules of TOYOTA
2. All connections are direct
Customer – Supplier
Worker – Manager
Standardized and direct
No grey areas- Kanban
“When something is everyone’s problem,
it becomes no one’s problem”
The Four Rules of TOYOTA
3. Simple and direct pathways
Specified path
Minimal change
Each job has it’s ‘master’
Easy to test the hypotheses and spot the flaws
The Four Rules of TOYOTA
4. Improvements made in accordance with the
scientific method
Teacher guidance
Question everything!
Examine both success and failure
How Toyota’s workers learn the rules:
• Unorthodox method
• Guiding questions:
How do you do this work?
How do you know you are doing it correctly?
How do you know that the outcome is free of defects?
What do you do if you have a problem?
• Methodical thinking
• Critical for the system’s success
Toyota's Notion of the Ideal
• Incorporating a scientific way of thinking at all levels
▫ Ensures people will clearly state the expectation they
will be testing when implanting change.
• Common understanding of a ideal production system
• Shared vision motivates one to make astounding
Toyota's Notion of the Ideal
• Toyota's workers view the ideal as concrete and
consistent throughout the company:
▫ (Should be) Defect Free
▫ Delivered one request at a time
▫ Supplied on demand in the version requested
▫ Delivered immediately
▫ Produced in a safe work environment
The Organizational Impact of the Rules
The rules create an organization with a nested
modular structure:
• The workers become capable of and responsible
for doing and improving their own work
• The connections between individual customers
and suppliers become standardized
• The resolution of problems is pushed to the
lowest possible level
• People can implement design changes in their
part without unduly affecting other parts.
• Unique – scientific way of thinking
• Hard to understand and/or implement
• This article seeks to help other companies apply
the Toyota Production System using 4 basic
Questions or Comments?