!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: The Toyota Way I: Company Culture

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Toyota Way I: Company Culture

Toyota has been in the news because their July sales put them in 2nd place in the US — ahead of Ford — for the first time in recorded history. This seems like a good moment to review "The Toyota Way," of which The Economist provided a summary in their January 21, 2006 issue.

The five main elements of the Toyota culture are:
  • Kaizen — the process of continuous improvement.

  • Genchi genbutsu — "Go to the source." I.e., "Find the facts and do not rely on hearsay, because it is easier to build consensus around arguments that are well supported." Also, when you have a problem, make it your business to uncover the root cause.

  • Challenge — The idea that most problems are best approached as improvement opportunities.

  • Teamwork — Key principles are putting the company's interests ahead of those of the individual, and sharing knowledge. According to The Economist, this is an area where Toyota concentrates a lot of its on-the-job training effort.

  • Respect for others — This has two prongs: respect for others as fellow humans, and respect for people's expertise. Also part of the picture is encouraging expression of differences of opinion, something that can and should be done in a respectful fashion.
You can find a more detailed overview of the Toyota Way here. It will be interesting to watch as Toyota deals with its recent quality problems.