What sets Toyota apart from other excellent manufacturers? It is not that Toyota has the best Operational Excellence model in the world (the Toyota Production System). What sets them apart is that it has a tradition of Educating People.
At Toyota there is an education program for people that starts at year one and includes not only the job-specific knowledge and skills but what it means to think like a Toyota person. This not only includes KAIZEN™, but the philosophy behind how you make improvements (quick and dirty instead of delayed perfection, etc.)
The Toyota way provides an in-depth case study of one company’s pursuit of operational excellence through continuous improvement and how it turned that pursuit into a strategic differentiator. From the senior executives to small groups of team members on the shop floor, there is a feeling of intense energy focused on getting better. The 4P model given below is an integrated system of philosophy, processes, people and problem solving.
The philosophy is the foundation: “Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, event at the expense of short-term financial goals.” The most striking thing about Toyota is the consistency of values and the sense of mission up and down across the company. The external focus is consistently on adding value to customers and society. The internal focus is on developing exceptional people and continually challenging them to push the boundaries of their abilities.
How does Employee element sabotage excellence?
- Lack of skills
- De-motivation – poor infrastructure, unfair compensation
- Unclear goals and targets
- Lack of transparency
- Lack of belongingness
- Lack of stability
- Poor/inconsistent culture
- Ignoring the people aspect – “our processes are people independent”
- Locked knowledge and skills
- Unclear roles and responsibilities
If more organizations start educating their people in the basic philosophy of Kaizen/Lean and TPS (never mind the specific tools) they would have people who see the vast improvement opportunities or “buried treasure” in every gemba. Educating people in the workplace as part of an operational excellence strategy is more than teaching the production system or the techniques to make improvements. Employees are the biggest assets and its employees who can help to achieve operational excellence goals.