Reflections on Reading The Toyota Way Chapters 1-2
Chapter 1 introduces us to Toyota’s successes over the years. I had to check the copyright date knowing that in recent years Toyota has had a few issues and no longer reflects the glowing reviews that Liker raves (2004, pg. 4-5). Indeed the copyright is 2004, which would reflect a happier time for Toyota. We have been assigned this giant book for a reason. I will give it a chance and read its points openly.
“The Toyota Way” is based on Liker’s 20 years of studying Toyota (2004, pg. 6) that includes four high-levels principles to include:
- Problem Solving
Along with the “Toyota Way” it is paired with “The Toyota Production System (TPS) and Lean Production” which is what Liker describes as the “double helix of Toyota’s DNA” (2004, pg. 7). Liker quotes Taiichi Ohno, founder of TPS:
All we are doing is looking at the time line from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect cash. And we are reducing that time line by removing the non-value-added wastes”(Ohno, 1998).
Wow, what a statement! Currently working in an
company industry that consistently is trying to add value, but rarely will remove “non-value-added wastes”. What a practical statement.
Liker (2004) is quick to point out that many companies tend to only focus on Process and do not look at the other 3Ps when trying to adapt the 4 Ps to the process (pg. 13).
Interesting, that Toyota is favored by Liker as a “family business”, with over 240,000 employees (2004, pg. 15). Currently working in an organization that has 170 employees it does not feel like I work for a “family business” and doubt that any company over 100 employees really could.
Aha- it is a family company being handed down from Sakichi Toyoda a tinker and inventor (Liker, 2004, pg 16) to his son Kiichiro who sold the patent and founded Toyota Motor Company in 1930 (pg. 16). Interesting that globalization was impacting Toyota in the 40’s after World War II. The United States saw a need for Toyota to build trucks to help rebuild Japan after WWII (Liker, 2004, pg. 18).
Eiji Toyoda was the nephew of Sakichi and cousin to Kiichiro and eventually “became president and then chairman of Toyota Motor Manufacturing” (Liker, 2004, pg. 20). All founding family members apparently were not afraid to get their hands dirty. I always prefer a leader who is willing to roll up their sleeves.
Toyota took a 12-week tour in the 1950’s of US manufacturing plants, and instead of being amazed they saw it was an opportunity to “catch up” (Liker, 2004, pg 21). Interesting that instead of accepting that the competition is where it was, the early leaders of Toyota considered it a chance. One question I do have is, why would competitors such as Ford Motor Company allow Toyota into their manufacturing plants? Perhaps Toyota was not considered a big enough threat to even give it a thought.
After completing the first two chapters it is clear why Toyota is considered a “family” company and I am eager to find out why they have not lost that over decades in business.
Liker, J. K. (2004). The Toyota Way: 14 management principles from the world’s greatest manufacturer. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Eiji Toyoda, key figure in Toyota’s rise, dies (kansascity.com)
- Toyota Is Recalling More Than 800,000 Cars Because of Spiders (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)