[notes] The Toyota Way Fieldbook

The Toyota Way Fieldbook (2005) by Jeffrey Liker and David Meier #

Buy from Amazon

This book is intense. It’s meant as a companion to The Toyota Way (also by Jeffrey Liker), and I would recommend reading that book first for a higher level introduction. The fieldbook gets right down to the nitty gritty.

Part I. Learning from Toyota #

Chapter 1: Background to the Fieldbook #

“Toyota has contributed a new paradigm of manufacturing. “Lean production,” a term coined in The Machine That Changed the World, is widely considered the next big step in the evolution of manufacturing beyond Ford’s mass production.”

The Toyota Way documented Toyota’s Way. We decided the fieldbook should provide practical advice to those attempting to learn from The Toyota Way.”

Overview of the Toyota Way Principles #

I. Philosophy as the Foundation #

  1. Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.
    • “Toyota always starts with the goal of generating value for the customer, society, and the economy.”

II. The Right Process Will Produce the Right Results #

  1. Create a continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.
  2. Use “pull systems to avoid overproduction.
    • "Toyota found a better approach, modeled after the American supermarket system. Stock relatively small amounts of each product and restock the supermarket shelf frequently, based on what the customer actually takes away. The kanban system is often viewed as the signature of the Toyota Production System.”
  3. Level out the workload (work like the tortoise, not the hare).
  4. Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.
  5. Standardized tasks and processes are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.
    • “By standardizing today’s best practices, they capture the learning up to this point. The task of continuous improvement is then to improve upon this standard, and the improvements are then incorporated into the new standard.”
  6. Use visual control so no problems are hidden.
  7. Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and process.

III. Add Value to the Organization by Developing Your People and Partners #

  1. Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.
  2. Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.
  3. Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.

IV. Continuously Solving Root Problems Drives Organizational Learning #

  1. Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.
  2. Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.
    • Nemawashi is the process of bringing problems and potential solutions to all of those affected to gather their ideas and get agreement on a solution.”
  3. Become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement.

Part II. Why Does Your Company Exist? #

Chapter 2. Define Your Corporate Philosophy and Begin to Live It #

“The real power of lean systems, Ohno found, is that they bring problems to the surface and force people to think.”

Philosophy (Long-Term Thinking) -> Process (Eliminate Waste) -> People and Partners (Respect, Challenge, and Grow Them) -> Problem Solving (Continuous Improvement and Learning)

Part III. Creating Lean Processes Throughout Your Enterprise #

Chapter 3. Starting the Journey of Waste Reduction #

Complete success is dependent on three things:

  1. A focus on understanding the concepts that support the philosophies of lean, strategies for implementation, and the effective use of lean methodologies, rather than focusing on mindless application of lean tools.
  2. An unwavering acceptance of all aspects of the lean process, including those that produce undesirable short-term effects. This prevents “cherry picking” only those elements that do not push beyond the comfort zone.
  3. Carefully conceived implementation plans that contain a systematic, cyclical, and continuous eradication of waste.

Toyota’s seven types of waste (non-value-adding activities in business or manufacturing processes), plus an eighth:

  1. Overproduction.
    • Producing items earlier or in greater quantities than needed by the customer. Producing earlier or more than is needed generates other wastes, such as overstaffing, storage, and transportation costs because of excess inventory. Inventory can be physical inventory or a queue of information.
  2. Waiting (time on hand).
  3. Transportation or conveyance.
  4. Overprocessing or incorrect processing.
    • Taking unneeded steps to process the parts. Inefficiently processing due to poor tool and product design, causing unnecessary motion and producing defects. Waste is generated when providing higher quality products than is necessary. At times extra “work” is done to fill excess time rather than spend it waiting.
  5. Excess inventory.
    • Excess raw material, WIP, or finished goods causing longer lead times, obsolescence, damaged goods, transportation and storage costs, and delay. Also, extra inventory hides problems such as production imbalances, late deliveries from suppliers, defects, equipment downtime, and long setup times.
  6. Unnecessary movement.
  7. Defects.
  8. Unused employee creativity.

“Ohno considered the fundamental waste to be overproduction, since it causes most of the other wastes.”

“We should note that the main reason the first seven wastes are so critical, according to Ohno, is because of their impact on what we are calling the eighth waste. Overproducing, inventory, etc., hide problems, and then team associates are not forced to think. Reducing waste exposes problems and forces team associates to use their creativity to solve problems.”

Value Stream Mapping Approach #

(selective) Tips for Value Stream Mapping

takt: rate of customer demand
lead-time: time from customer order to completion and delivery of product

“The main purpose of the first mapping of the current state is to understand the condition of material flow in the value stream and the inhibitors to the flow, as well as understanding the information flow process and the level of activity necessary to sustain it. The future state then provides a high level picture of the flow of material and information, which can be later refined when the process is stabilized.”

(selective) Primary Objectives of Mapping the Current State

“As you study and map your operation, identify inventory locations as well as the category (work in process, finished goods, purchased components, and raw materials). Each category of inventory is typically used to compensate for a specific weakness.”

“If you are “scheduling” at multiple points, note that as well. Multiple scheduling points are an indicator of “push” manufacturing.”

flow-through process: a process capable of producing any product at any time without consideration or limitation (e.g. parts washing)

“The creation of flow, and the subsequent connecting of operations, forces problems to surface, and any abnormalities will shut down production. It is imperative that all operations achieve a basic level of consistent capability prior to the establishment of flow. If flow is attempted before this basic readiness, the result could be catastrophic. Do not aim for perfection, since improvement should continue once you have set up good flow.”

Continuous Improvement: Stabilize -> Create Flow -> Standardize -> Level Incrementally -> Stabilize -> …

Think of it as a spiral, tightening at each turn.

Chapter 4. Create Initial Process Stability #

“Stability is defined as the capability to produce consistent results over time. Instability is the result of variability in your process.”

“The primary objective of the stability phase is to create a basis for consistency so the “reality” can be seen and random activities removed, thus establishing a foundation for true improvement. This includes reducing the variability of the demand rate (prior to the establishment of takt time, rate of customer demand) and the creation of basic daily volume leveling.”

(selective) Strategies and Tools to Create Stability

“The Toyota Way is to always focus on optimizing value-adding activity, and any system established begins with consideration for the operator and minimizing waste. We use the expression, “Treat the value-adding operator as a surgeon.””

Improve Operational Availability #

  1. In-cycle losses
    • occur during the work cycle (as the equipment is operating)
    • smaller waste, high frequency
  2. Out-of-cycle losses
    • occur when the equipment is not operating
    • larger waste, smaller frequency
    • Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) can be used to dramatically reduce changeover times

Reduce Variability by Isolating It #

Variability comes in two forms:

  1. Self-inflicted variability (that which you control)
    • e.g. how a company handles employees taking vacation time
  2. External variability, which is primarily related to the customers and to the variation that is inherent to the product itself
    • e.g. product demand
    • trend from high volume, low variety (HVLV) to low volume, high variety (LVHV)

“The tricky thing about variation is that 20 percent (the minority) of the product often provides 80 percent of the total variation.”

Chapter 5. Create Connected Process Flow #

“One-piece flow is the ideal… But Ohno learned that one-piece flow is fragile.”

“Sustaining continuous flow also serves to surface any problem that would inhibit that flow. In essence, the creation of flow forces the correction of problems, resulting in reduced waste.”

“The Toyota Way suggests that “failing” and correcting the shortcoming is a way to improve results for the long term. Traditional thinking, in contrast, is that success is achieved by never allowing “failure” to affect the short-term result.”

Philosophy: Waste Elimination ->
Strategy: Create Continuous Process Flow ->
Method: Pull System (Tools: Kanban, Supermarkets, Defined FIFO Lanes) ->
Reason: Problems are Surfaced Quickly and Are Critical ->
Effect: Problems Must Be Corrected Quickly ->
Result: Waste is Reduced!

Less Is More: Reduce Waste by Controlling Overproduction #

“In a true one-piece flow, each operation only builds what the next operation needs. If the next operation gets backed up for some reason, then preceding operations actually stop.”

“In most manufacturing operations utilizing one-piece flow, a single piece is placed between the workstations, allowing for minor variance in each worker’s cycle time without causing waiting time. Additional pieces between
each operation allow for greater variation in cycle times from operation to operation; however, this also increases the waste of overproduction. This is the conundrum.”

Pull #

“Flow defines that state of material as it moves from process to process. Pull dictates when material is moved and who (the customer) determines that it is to be moved.”

“The kanban “sign” is one of the tools used as part of a pull system. The kanban is simply the communication method and could be a card, an empty space, a cart, or any other signaling method for the customer to say, “I am ready for more.””

“The kanbans represent an inverse of the WIP quantity. More kanbans at the supplier equals less WIP at the customer.”

“One of the primary benefits of creating flow and establishing defined agreements is that the effect of problems can now be seen easily.”

The primary causes of deviation by operators are:

  1. Imbalanced work cycles times (due to normal variation in work content, operator skill, etc)
  2. Lack of parts, or operators leaving the work area to perform additional tasks (retrieving parts, quality checks, etc)
  3. Struggling with machines, or overly complex tasks
  4. Miscellaneous issues, such as staggering break times

Flow, Pull, and Eliminate Waste #

“It is best to think of flow on a continuum…”

Traditional Batch and Queue -> Ideal State of Lean #

Chapter 6. Establish Standardized Processes and Procedures #

“The establishment of standardized processes and procedures is the greatest
key to creating consistent performance. It is only when the process is stable that you can begin the creative progression of continuous improvement.”

Standardized Work is not meant to be “used as either a club to beat employees for
nonperformance or as a carrot to entice them to exceed the standard.” It should be “driven by the people” because “people doing the work understand it in sufficient detail to make the biggest contributions
to standardization.”

“Toyota considers the development of standardization to be a baseline for continuous
improvement, meaning that future results are expected to improve from
the standard. The traditional method considers standards as the objective to
achieve, as if the standard were the ultimate level of performance, which precludes
the possibility of improvement.”

Create a Structure to Support Standardized Work #

“Toyota has a system of team leaders that audit the work procedures of employees to detect deviations from standard work, and are often involved in developing standard work for new models… Interestingly, the team leader role is exactly what is missing in most companies.”

Types of Standardization #

Foundation: Quality, Safety, Environmental Standards (requirements defined outside the organization)
Wall: Standard Specifications (internally defined operational methods)
Wall: Standard Procedures (internally defined methods to support lean processes)
Ceiling: Standardized Work (general work methods defined with an eye for waste
Operator Instruction (detailed work methods defined to develop operator knowledge and skill)

Standardized Work Documents #

“The Standardized Work Sheet is used initially as a tool to identify and eliminate
waste. After improvements are made, the new method becomes the baseline
for improvement. Then it is posted in the work area as a method of visual control
for management to verify adherence to the standard.”

“The Standardized Work Combination
is used for analyzing jobs that have combined work. The intent is to show
the relationship in terms of time of two or more activities that occur simultaneously.”

“The Production Capacity Sheet indicates the capacity of machinery
in the process.”

Standardized Work as a Baseline for Continuous Improvement #

“As mentioned, it’s a common myth that standardized work is posted so the
operator can refer to it while doing the job. At Toyota operations, standardized
work faces out toward the aisle, where the operator cannot easily see it. It is for
the benefit of the team leader and group leader who are responsible for auditing
the standard work.”

“Before running off and making improvements, however, we should first understand what will be done with the gain. It is important to always make improvement based on need, rather than because improvement is possible. Improvement will always be possible!”

“Many people get confused about the difference between takt time and cycle time.
Takt time is not a tool. It is a concept that is used to design work, and it measures
the pace of customer demand.”

Chapter 7. Leveling: Be More Like the Tortoise Than the Hare #

“Pushing a process toward an ideal smoothness in production also pushes the process to the highest degree of flexibility and responsiveness to changing customer demand.”

“This smoothing allows for the standardization of resources, which greatly simplifies planning and control.”

“This flexibility taxes the process. Any problem that causes delays will reveal itself immediately and result in a missed schedule.”

Smoothing Demand for Upstream Processes #

Set “a defined agreement that represents the needs of the customer that have been smoothed for the benefit of your processes.”

Incremental Leveling and Advanced Heijunka #

“The method will stress the value stream, and the weakest link will snap, creating instability. When the weak link is detected, resources are gathered to attack the issues.”

“Slice and Dice When Product Variety Is High”

“Generally, the first group is relatively small in terms of the quantity of part numbers but large as a percentage of total volume. (If you are thinking that this is the Pareto principle in action, you’re exactly right. This method allows you to isolate the “significant few” from the “trivial many.”)”

Case Study: Leveling the Schedule in an Engineering Organization #

“Most knowledge work is inherently lumpy. And you cannot parcel out a schedule in units the way you can in a manufacturing process.”

Chapter 8. Build a Culture That Stops to Fix Problems #

“…the principle of building in quality and the decision to stop and fix problems as they occur rather than pushing them down the line to be resolved later.”

“The focus in mass manufacturing is in getting the mass. In lean the focus is on eliminating waste.”

“If the thinking begins with a focus on waste elimination (in this case waste of correction), the natural extension of that philosophy is to develop a system that emphasizes getting quality right the first time.”

The Problem-Resolution Cycle #

  1. Recognition (abnormality from a standard)
  2. Elevate (pulling the andon cord)
  3. Evaluate
  4. Control (ensure problem will not reach the customer)
  5. Containment
  6. Prevention

Develop Stability and Support Before Attempting to Implement Stop the Line #

Build Quality Inspections into Every Job #

  1. Check the incoming work to ensure that it is free of defects.
  2. Verify that his or her work is free of defects.
  3. Never knowingly pass defective product to the following operation.

“Of course, one of the primary purposes of stopping the line is to prevent
passing defects to following operations. Even with this extensive system and support available, it is one of the more difficult ideas to instill. People seem to have an aversion to admitting failure or incapability. One of the great benefits of small batch production is that if a defect is missed at one station and subsequent operators are checking incoming work, there will be a very short feedback loop from the time when the problem is created to the time when it’s discovered at a downstream operation.”

Don’t Give People Rules They’re Unable to Follow #

“Workers want to do the right thing and follow instructions, but if it isn’t possible to follow the rule and get the job done effectively, they will choose to get the job done and violate the rule.”

Poka Yoke #

“The difference in thinking shifts the responsibility for errors from the people to the method, which also shifts the blame for mistakes from people to systems. When people are released from blame, they are free to focus on creating more effective systems and actually solving problems, rather than defending themselves. It is common within Toyota for a manager to apologize to a worker when the worker makes an error, because management bears the responsibility for creating effective systems that prevent mistakes.”

This list of possible causes of errors or omissions may not be all-inclusive,
but it covers the primary causes:

  1. Deviation from defined work method (work must be standardized before attempting poka yoke). a. Omitted steps b. Steps out of sequence
  2. Missing parts (or components of the work)
  3. Improper part (watch out for interchangeable parts)
  4. Incorrect setup (wrong tools or settings)
  5. Errors in information or documentation
  6. Transposing type errors (watch for long number strings)
  7. Misinterpretation type errors (look for similar descriptions, numbers, and appearance)
  8. Recognizing the mistake but failing to segregate or correct it

“It may be easy to do a task one time without errors. Doing it hundreds of times without errors is another matter entirely.”

Chapter 9. Make Technology Fit with People and Lean Processes #

“Stop using technology but saying stop using technology in a way that produces waste. Stop using technology as a substitute for thinking.”

Tailor Technology to Fit Your People and Operating Philosophy #

“Automation has been around for centuries. It is not a new story. Any engineer who has made a case for automation knows the drill. Do a cost benefit analysis where the cost is the amortized capital cost and the benefit is typically labor savings. If labor savings exceeds the amortized capital cost, the automation wins. In reality there is often a hidden bias in favor of the technology since automation does not talk back like people or threaten to unionize.”

“Traditional IT design as depicted in Figure 9-3 is a push system. The philosophical assumption is that more information and sophisticated analysis is always better than simple human judgment.”

“The supposed “business processes” improved by IT are mostly aimed at getting the right data into the IT system (e.g., scanning in inventory every time it is moved). The result is often a narrow focus on improving the IT business processes without closely examining the actual work process. The people become dependent on the system, which is vulnerable to failures. The people stop thinking and start following the dictates of the system. This results in less kaizen and more waste.”

“When you have squeezed what you can out of the manual system, then ask how that system can be further improved with some specific capability. Technology offers one solution to help “meet takt time by flexible, low cost human-machine systems.””

Part 4. Develop Exceptional People and Partners #

Chapter 10. Develop Leaders Who Live Your System from Top to Bottom #

“The Toyota philosophy is to disperse responsibility to the lowest level

Focus on the Desired Outcome, Not the Daily Tasks of Leaders #

“The leader must accomplish his or her daily duties, but the real job is to develop people capable of accomplishing greater results.”

These are the five characteristics of a leader as defined by TWI, with a sixth
added by us:

  1. Willingness and Desire to Lead
  2. Job Knowledge
    • “ This requirement is often missing from leaders outside Toyota, with the implied assumption that general management skills can overcome a lack of in-depth job knowledge.”
  3. Job Responsibilities
  4. Continuous Improvement Ability
  5. Leadership Ability
  6. Teaching Ability

“We have never seen an operation that did not have enough people within
the existing staff to create a leadership structure (and we have seen quite a few operations). This is the power of waste elimination and standardized work. You must continue to make improvements until you can consolidate the waste and create the opportunity. When confronted with this challenge, the Japanese sensei would often say, “No problem.” This did not mean that it would not take considerable effort to accomplish; it simply meant that the amount of waste in any system is so great that it is always possible to do.”

“Internal development is the responsibility of the current leader. This is accomplished by daily mentoring and by allowing the “student” to assume some responsibilities with guidance from the leader (not just delegating). Honest assessment of performance and continuous feedback from the leader is necessary.”

Chapter 11. Develop Exceptional Team Associates

“The Toyota Way is centered on the philosophy that people truly are the greatest asset.”

“It is also true that employees will fulfill the expectations that you have of

Start by Selecting the Right People #

“The selection process used at the Toyota plant in Georgetown is based on the idea that a person’s past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior.”

The selection process targets the following skills for team associates:

“When people arrive on the first day for a new job, they’re generally filled with hope and have “good attitudes.” It takes effort on our part to change those hopes and good attitudes into regret and negativity.”

“One of the most common complaints we hear when we talk to associates at all companies is that there is a lack of effective training. We find that something as important as learning the correct way to perform work is often left to chance. No consistent method is used, trainers are not identified—and if they are, they have not received formal training—and the specific requirements for performing the work are not clearly identified. The training of employees takes a low priority on the list of leaders’ duties (leaders who are often spread too thin and can’t make time for the individual needs of every employee).”

“Without effective training and coaching, people will develop their own method, and it will most likely not be the “preferred” method (as in “my way”).”

“If you elect to shortcut on employee education and training, you will be paying in perpetuity.”

  1. Break Down the Job
    • “The first step of the training process is to analyze the work and develop a training aid called a “Job Breakdown Sheet””
  2. Present the Operation
    • “There are at least three distinct phases in training the individual to perform the job: First, teach the important steps that explain what is done; then do the steps again while explaining each key point, which explains how the step is done; and then do the steps and key points yet again while explaining the reasons for the key points. Providing the reasons that things are done gives validity to the key points and helps the trainees understand the importance of their work.”
    • “The job instruction method stresses the importance of giving the student “no more than they can master” in any one session.”
  3. Try Out Performance
    • “During this phase the trainer must determine whether the trainee will be able to perform the work on their own and how much support they will need. Never leave an assessment of capability to the student. No one wants to give the impression that they don’t “get it,” so they will undoubtedly say that they understand the work.”
  4. Put Them on the Job and Provide Support

Never Allow Students to Determine Their Own Readiness for a Task #

“Asking the trainee also places responsibility for understanding on him or her. The trainer must assume responsibility for the outcome of the training.”

Chapter 12. Develop Suppliers and Partners as Extensions of the Enterprise #

Short-Term Cost Savings vs. Long-Term Partnerships #

“First, there’s quality… Toyota wants its suppliers to have a compatible culture of finding and eliminating problems through continuous improvement.”

“Second, there is the engineering of products and processes. Toyota has made a living on the overall quality of design and the precision, as well as the flexibility, of its manufacturing processes.”

“Third, there is the precision and delicacy of the just-in-time system. As we have learned, JIT is not just about reducing inventory. It is about exposing problems so that people will solve them. It is a “fragile” supply chain system. Toyota extends that system and its underlying philosophy to suppliers. Suppliers are simply extensions of the assembly line, and waste anyplace in the value stream from raw materials to delivery to the customer is still waste. It must be driven out. Toyota has worked since it was founded to learn how to eliminate waste. Having suppliers who do not have this capability creates weak links throughout the value chain. Toyota wants every link to be equally strong and capable. Remember, lean is about connected flows between stable processes. The supplier needs to be stable and connected to your stable plants.”

“Fourth, Toyota wants innovation. The core of their long-term success has been innovation—in products, processes, and countless small improvements throughout the enterprise. Toyota sets specific targets for innovation by its suppliers.”

“Fifth, Toyota realizes that the overall financial health of the Toyota enterprise depends on the overall financial health of each part of the enterprise. While a weak supplier may be able to inspect and build inventory and ship good parts just-in-time and provide price reductions, at some point the weak supplier will be driven out of business.”

Seven Characteristics of Supplier Partnering

  1. Mutual Understanding
  2. Interlocking Structures
  3. Control Systems
    • “The approach used was hoshin kanri, also called policy deployment, in which top management sets high-level objectives and the next level down comes up with objectives to support these and draws a chart showing the relationships between their objectives and the higher level.”
    • “Target pricing is a severe form of control. It is well known that Japanese companies work backward in setting costs for the product. Instead of the typical American practice of building up costs, adding a profit margin, and setting the price, they start with the market price and figure out what costs they can bear to make the profit they want.”
  4. Compatible Capabilities
    • “Suppliers must be able to innovate in the product design and process and work closely with Toyota through the product development process.”
  5. Information Sharing
  6. Joint Improvement Activities
  7. Continuous Improvement and Learning
    • “Typically, learning is thought to occur at the individual level, and if these individuals leave the organization or move to another assignment, their learning is lost. Preserving what is learned at the organizational level is far more challenging,and learning at the enterprise level seems near impossible.”

Building a Lean Extended Enterprise

  1. Become a Role Model Lean Customer
  2. Identify Your Core Competencies
  3. Develop Your Core Suppliers
  4. Use Control Systems for Continuous Improvement
  5. Favor an Incremental Approach
    • “Start small with selective outsourcing for a new supplier.”
  6. Develop Mechanisms for Joint Enterprise Learning

Part V. Root Cause Problem Solving for Continuous Learning #

13. Problem Solving the Toyota Way #

Every Problem Is an Improvement Opportunity #

“Many organizations fail to develop an effective process for capturing opportunity from all three categories [Small, Medium, and Large]. Quite often the Small category is overlooked entirely because these opportunities are viewed as “insignificant” or offering “not enough bang for the buck.””

“In fact, continuous improvement is so important that changes to processes
are made up to the last day of production in a product cycle. This seems paradoxical until it is understood that the idea of continuous improvement truly means continuous—never ending. If people believe that improvements are only desired under the “correct” conditions, they will, in effect, not make improvements because the conditions may never be correct.”

Telling the Problem-Solving Story #

  1. Develop a thorough understanding of the current situation and define the problem.
  2. Complete a thorough root cause analysis.
  3. Thoroughly consider alternative solutions while building consensus.
  4. Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA):
    1. Plan: Develop an action plan
    2. Do: Implement solutions rapidly
    3. Check: Verify result
    4. Act: Make necessary adjustments to solutions and action plan and determine future steps
  5. Reflect and learn from the process.

“You will notice that Chapter 14, which focuses on understanding the current situation and defining the problem, is the longest, and subsequent chapters get shorter. This reflects the importance and level of effort in each of these phases. Getting the problem right is the most important and should be where most of the effort is made, since doing a great job of solving the wrong problem has little long-term impact.”

14. Develop a Thorough Understanding of the Situation and Define the Problem #

“In Toyota’s internal Toyota Way 2001 document they describe problem solving under the broad category genchi genbutsu—the actual part, the actual place. The discipline of carefully observing actual processes directly without preconception—with a blank mind—starts the process of truly understanding the problem.”

“There’s a saying that mocks both American and Japanese styles of problem solving. The Americans say, “Ready, fire, aim,” while the Japanese say, “Ready, aim, aim, aim, fire.” There is an element of truth in both of these approaches, and an element of both strength and weakness in each.”

“Avoid the mistake of putting too much effort and expense into solving insignificant problems. Carefully consider the importance and value of solving the problem prior to beginning activity. Do not exert one dollar’s worth of effort to solve a five-cent problem.”

“One of the signs of a “Ready, fire, aim” culture is the tendency to “jump” immediately from the “problem” to the “solution.” In many cases the problem may be mentioned casually and much time spent proposing various “solutions” before the “problem” has been clearly defined.”

“It’s easy to confuse activity with results. A poorly defined problem and a rush to solution and action lead to activity without achieving the desired results.”

Find the True Problem to Get the Most Significant Results #

“ In an attempt to identify “the problem,” people often enter the causal chain at the problem perception point, or the “point of recognition,” rather than at the level of the true problem.”

“Delivering a quality product to the customer is always understood to be the
number one goal. Atenet of the Toyota Way is that a defect should never knowingly be passed on to the next process. The effort to ensure the correction, containment, or control of the quality problem will have a negative impact on productivity and cost.”

“Within Toyota, all processes are closely linked to each other, and the “customer” is actually the next process. Given these tight connections and the fact that all processes in the plant and throughout the entire supply chain are inherently linked, if you fail to meet the customer demand (the next process), the entire operation will begin to stop, one process at a time (like dominos).”

Defining the Problem #

In order to be defined as a “problem,” four pieces of information are required:

  1. The actual current performance with some historical trend detail
  2. The desired performance (standard or goal)
  3. The magnitude of the problem as seen by the difference between the actual and desired (sometimes referred to as the “gap”)
  4. The extent and characteristics of the problem or situation

Problems are evaluated to determine which require the most immediate attention using the following criteria:

15. Complete a Thorough Root Cause Analysis #

“Every Toyota manager understands, above all, the value of human creativity — that it is the single thing that will set them apart from their competition.”

Principles of Effective Analysis #

  1. The analysis must not be clouded by preconceived ideas of the problem causes. If the cause is assumed, it will preclude a useful analysis and most likely lead to poor results.
  2. Always follow the genchi genbutsu principle to verify the source of the problem. Do not depend on others, or on data, to find the cause. Use information to point toward the location to “go see.” The point of cause must be observed firsthand.
  3. Analysis is continued until it is certain that the true causes, or root causes, of the problem are discovered (using the “Five-Why” method).
  4. In nearly all situations there are multiple causes for problems, and thus the analysis must be comprehensive. Toyota evaluates causes through the 4Ms: Man, Method, Material, and Machine.
  5. Since there are many possible causes, it’s necessary to narrow to the most significant ones. Narrowing allows the focusing of efforts to generate greater results.
  6. During the analysis, the goal is to identify problem causes that can be corrected by the problem solver. This avoids the tendency to defer the problem to others and forces the question, “What can we do?”
  7. A thorough and complete analysis will yield root causes that will clearly indicate specific, corrective actions. There is an observable and obvious trail leading from the problem to the causes and to the solutions.
  8. Thorough and complete analysis provides factual data, allowing precise prediction of potential results when the causes are corrected. Determining the exact result is an important part of the process since it forces the evaluation of capability and effectiveness in examining a problem.

“Knowing where to focus is crucial in order to train our minds to understand the complete chain. Skipping what appear to be obvious links in the chain will cause jumping to preconceived causes, thus overlooking other possibilities. This is one of the greatest risks and also the greatest challenges in thinking.”

Distill Root Cause Analysis to Simplest Terms #

“To be concise with the information, the analysis of the problem should be depicted graphically. This is aligned with the “visual workplace” philosophy of Toyota.”

16. Consider Alternative Solutions While Building Consensus #

“Just as there are many potential causes and root causes for any problem, there is always more than one way to solve any problem!”

Broadly Consider All Possibilities #

“The failing of brainstorming is often that the problem was not well analyzed to begin with, and the process of evaluating solutions and narrowing down to a preferred solution is not well understood.”

Develop Consensus #

“This is a misguided belief that it’s necessary for everyone to agree and want the change. In fact, consensus means that everyone agrees to accept the proposed solution, even if they don’t believe it’s the best one. Any disagreements regarding “my way” versus “your way” are easily resolved by agreeing to try both methods and then let everyone see “the best.””

Test Ideas for Effectiveness #

Define the Right Problem and the Solution Will Follow #

17. Plan-Do-Check-Act #

“A common theme within the Toyota Way is that the method or tool is not as important as the thought process and the skill of the user.”

“Toyota places extremely high importance on protecting the customer (the next process in the flow) from any problem. This concept makes the implementation of short-term countermeasures critical.”

“Long-term countermeasures are intended to permanently eliminate the root causes. Implementation timing may extend beyond a week, or beyond months. In these cases it is best to divide the task into smaller increments… Essentially this is the result of “batching” the implementation instead of breaking it into a small batch flow.”

Do: Implement Solutions #

“Given this phenomenon, and the perpetual nature of continuous improvement, one might ask, “When is a project complete?” The answer lies in the successful achievement of the goal as established in the problem statement. If the problem is solved (as defined), the activity is officially completed.”

Check: Verify Results #

“It is surprising to discover that in many cases data prior to “improvement” is not available! How is it possible to verify improvement if there is no point of comparison? Generally, this is due to the eagerness to rush off and solve the “problem” without fully understanding the extent. (Without data, the severity of the situation is only a subjective “feeling.”)”

“But this level of detail is not important for other reviewing the activity. The general idea is that if the desired results have been achieved, the action plan and its execution must have been good, and understanding every detail is not necessary.”

Act: Make Necessary Adjustments to Solutions and to the Action Plan #

“As you can see, the entire problem-solving process is a continuous progression of developing a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, measuring results, adjusting the hypothesis, retesting, measuring, and so forth, until the desired result is achieved.”

“Many people mistakenly place a high importance on the “action” phase of problem solving. It is thought that “making things happen” is the most important step in getting results. In fact, the most important step in getting exceptional results is in effectively identifying the root causes. If you have identified the root causes, the necessary corrective actions should be clear, and when implemented will produce the desired result.”

18. Telling the Story Using an A3 Report #

“There is no perfect A3. Each time we do one we can always find ways to improve the content or the format. Our goal is not to be perfect, but to communicate information effectively.”

“But more important than the size of the reports and the technical details in crafting and printing them is that the A3 is only as good as the process that generates it. Without a good problem-solving process, you will not get a good A3 report.”

“Behind the scenes, a key to generating an A3 report is nemawashi—the process of getting consensus. The nemawashi can be viewed as a type of ringi sho—a proposal being circulated.”

Part 6. Managing the Change #

19. Lean Implementation Strategies and Tactics #

You have at least four choices:

  1. Philosophy. You can start with an off-site meeting of top leaders and clearly define your vision for becoming a lean enterprise.
  2. Process. You can begin implementing lean correctly as a connected value stream, as we describe in Part III of this book.
  3. People. You can work to train and indoctrinate your people into the new lean way of thinking, directly effecting culture change.
  4. Problem solving. You can train people in a problem-solving methodology and give them time to meet in groups and solve problems.

“But if you have to pick one place to begin focusing your efforts, it has to be at the process layer—reducing waste in the transformation process.”

“Lean is a value stream philosophy: Start with what the customer values and eliminate waste in the value stream.”

“Notice that each of these loops is a complete closed loop of material and information flow. Material flows toward the customer and information flows backward to trigger the next order from the immediate customer. Each loop can be independently worked on from a lean perspective, and the supermarkets buffer one loop from minor disruptions while another is being changed.”

“There is no lean law that says you must start with the Pacesetter Loop, but other things being equal, this loop is the logical starting point. That is, start closest to the customer and create a leveled pull at the pace maker, beginning to create a sense of takt time in the value stream at that point.”

Having the Patience to Do It Right #

“The point is to have a logical and well-planned process of deploying lean tools, which leads to lean systems and finally lean value streams.”

“This patience takes vision for what can be in the long term. It takes a philosophical understanding of the purpose. It is the hardest part of lean. But in the long term, the payoff is remarkable.”

20. Leading the Change #

“Changing to lean is a political process.”

“What do we mean by a political process? We mean that in any real-life organization, even Toyota, there are different people with different interests and agendas. Those who are passionate about any change in the organization have a vision. This vision will be embraced by those who see it as supporting their interests and opposed by those who do not. The degree of support and opposition will vary depending on a number of factors, such as how strongly it supports or violates interests, how strongly the interests are held, and the degree to which the organizational culture supports alignment around common goals. The political process is how these different interests work themselves out over time.”

“Leadership is about power. A leader needs to lead and is only a leader with followers. Getting people to follow you in a direction they are going anyway is not being a leader. The challenge is to get people to follow in a direction they might not otherwise go. Leaders must have a sense of direction. We sometimes call that a vision.”

Can You Metric Your Way to Lean? #

“You get what you measure!”

Use a Set of Metrics as Indicators of Progress and Problems #

A Standardized Process Can Be Effectively Measured and Improved #

“So the set of measures reviewed at the top should be broadened. The simple policy is to measure the Big Five in metrics: Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety, and Morale (QCDSM). If all of these are measured, trends are tracked relative to targets, and top management responds to deviations from plan, you’ll be well on your way to supporting lean. The key is to not get out of balance.”

“Within Toyota, when a process is stopped because the customer is not pulling, the supplier process in not penalized. This time is considered “wait kanban.” The operation is waiting for additional signals from the customer, and this time is deducted from the available time so that the process productivity measure is not affected.”

“So the question is: How can you create a culture of continuous improvement so you don’t have to measure everything to entice improvement, and instead let motivated associates set aggressive goals and measure their own progress?”

Changing Behavior to Change Culture #

“The short of it is, the new culture will be transmitted only through people, by direct transfer of people who have experienced and been part of the cultural change. Transferring workers or supervisors is a very powerful way.”

Now Please Try … and Do Your Best #

“The only way to gain true understanding was through doing.”

“It is a natural incremental process of learning by doing. You start the journey and then adjust it as you go.”

“Remember, "Every day, little up!”


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