Reflection # 5 (two days late and dollar short)

This week’s topic was culture. You know, the big thing that influences everybody yet almost seems invisible? I personally (and probably ignorantly) have always felt one step removed from popular culture. Currently my organization is very relaxed about dress code in the office. This was culture shock for me. Coming from a place where denim was NEVER allowed, to a place where staff wears slippers and Snuggies around the office. In retrospect I wasn’t removed from this culture because of who I am personally, but because of the previous culture I came from. I will occasionally participate in a casual day after two years of being in this culture, and I do keep a blanket under my desk to help keep off the year-round air-conditioning. You will however, NEVER see me in a Snuggie and slippers in the office.


What has stuck with me from the readings is the processes and in which culture is always changing and is ultimately developed as a way to cope with human nature. It is such a curious concept that I am not certain if I have completely grasped it yet. I work in the healthcare IT field, and it has really been impacted by all of the health care reform we experiencing currently. I have been to conferences, spoke to clinics, read studies, and have done personal research on the topic. I can’ shake this feeling of thinking some big piece is missing from this process.


It hit me while reading about culture. Our American culture is not ready for healthcare reform. We are actually implementing this backwards. We are putting in solutions before anyone knows how to use them. If we want to shift our culture into not only utilizing the healthcare reform solutions, but make them good consumers we need to almost start over.


If we need to lessen the amount of healthcare we are using, in order to better provide more people with access to healthcare then we need to start empowering ourselves (culture) to know the basics of self healthcare. With the cost of the healthcare reform, there must be a surge of education to current students, communities, and individuals. A sore throat, a cut that may need stitches, a sprained ankle, all of these things can tempt one to run to the doctor for treatment. In 2013, as access to the internet is ever so increasing, why is our culture not empowered to self-diagnose and treat simple ailments?


Our culture assumes that hospitals, ERs and urgent care are the solution to mild (non-life threatening) conditions. This can no longer be the assumption of American culture. The health systems, providers, patients, and communities can start to shift the paradigm. I don’t have all of the answers, but I think I am on to something… I would love your thoughts and feedback, please share!


Schein, E. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership, 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass


2nd Journal Entry

Chapter 3:

Toyota Production System (TPS)

1. What does the customer want from this process?

  • Include internal customers at the next step of the production line and the final external customer
  • The answer = value

Liker (2004) states that anything else is “non-value added” (pg. 27).

Liker lists eight major types of non-value-added waste in business or manufacturing processes. Liker credits Toyota for the first 7 and the last #8 as his own. They are:

  1. Overproduction
  2. Waiting (time on hand)
  3. Unnecessary transport or conveyance
  4. Overprocessing or incorrect processing
  5. Excess Inventory
  6. Unnecessary movement
  7. Defects
  8. Unused employee creativity

(Liker, 2004, pg 28-29)

Many of the items on the list are no brainers. Number two for example is obvious, time = money. If you have staff or employees waiting there is no productivity. Since I am not in manufacturing, here is an off the cuff thought for the business world- managers start your meetings on time!

Number six is called out for “wasted motion employees have to perform during the course of their work” Liker even tells us that walking is a waste of time. While walking and movement may be a waste of time, sometimes when you have a desk job it is important for your health to get up and move a little bit. I can see in a manufacturing job where number six is important, but in a business setting and in today’s world where we are sledging extra weight and barely active enough o keep our blood flowing I wouldn’t implement number six in the work place.

Liker continues on to describe a “spaghetti diagram” where you go through the process of walking through and mapping your value stream.  (pg. 29-30). I am trying really hard to relate this to business and not have it be so “manufactury”. I suppose it could work to map all the entry points a customer comes into the organization and follow the life cycle of a sale, and then the account management . . .

Liker reiterates that Lean Improvement is different from traditional process improvement, because you are taking out the non-value-added steps, not just improving certain steps (pg. 31).

As Toyota grew the standards that Toyota used in TPS needed to be communicated.  Here is a link to another blog that shows the “House” that Toyota Built: this is actually an interesting interpretation of how to use TPS in a more business role.


More coming soon. . .


Liker, J. K. (2004). The Toyota Way: 14 management principles from the world’s greatest manufacturer. New York: McGraw-Hill.

1st Journal Entry

Reflections on Reading The Toyota Way Chapters 1-2


Chapter 1:

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:

  • Philosophy
  • Process
  • People/Partners
  • 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).


Chapter 2:

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.