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The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement: Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence to Achieve Superior Performance Hardcover – May 10, 2011
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About the Author
Jeffrey K. Liker, the author of the bestselling The Toyota Way, is professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering and cofounder and cofounder and President of The Toyota Way Academy. With nine Shingo Prizes for research excellence his work has appeared in The Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and other leading publications.
James K. Franz learned lean as a Toyota Production Engineer in Japan, and has more than 22 years of manufacturing experience.
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Top customer reviews
Many Lean Masters/Practitioners are working in a less ideal situation and are struggling to get Lean implemented or to sustain/improve Lean in an organization. As with 5S, sustaining is the hardest part of being Lean.
"The Toyota Way for Continuous Improvement" brings the understanding that the PDCA cycle is the necessary part in a CI process. As a consultant I notice that the CA part of this cycle is often forgotten and the operation mostly falls back to its old levels.
Most companies that start with their Lean adventure, start with the ideal of getting Lean but actually look for a nice head count reduction. After a first start the operations always falls back to a basic level of Lean with every now and then an eruption of some Lean activities. Which is preferably linked with the next headcount reduction?
This book gives good guidelines on what to do when such a fallback has taken place. The 8 cases Liker/Franz describe, give a good view on how to improve these operations. What I have learned from this wide variation of companies, is that it takes about 6 to 8 years to really implement Lean in companies that already understand some things about it. What I also recognized is the general feeling in such divers companies, is what I call "we are different" feeling within such companies. Often they have a Lean façade (as Jeff Liker calls it so strikingly). I've heard this "different-saying" from Banks, Hospitals, Government organizations, and so on. The cases in this book show that the Lean tools can work everywhere, whenever there is waste.
Reading this book often brought a recognizing feeling of stages companies are in, who mention themselves as being Lean. No empowerment, 5S only on a basic level, only limited visual management, CI as a saving tool. This book can help every Lean Master/Practitioner to bring the company they are working for to the next level of Lean in a never ending journey.
In this latest effort, Prof. Liker and coauthor Jim Franz take us deeper than kanban and hoshin kanri to the real philosophy behind Toyota's consistent expertise in manufacturing. The authors use insight and experience to tell the story of WHY Toyota has achieved excellence. The consistent theme is the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust). This practice is not new; Demming gave it to the world years ago. But just as the concert pianist and brand new piano student can both play a C-Scale, the master has done it longer, better, with more nuance and breadth. So Toyota has more deeply understood the learning from PDCA than any of the rest of us.
Most useful, to me, were sections such as chapter 5; "Lean Out Processes or Build Lean Systems?" In these more philosophical chapters, Liker and Franz both force and lead the leader into deeper understanding of WHY; why does Lean work for Toyota when it seems to underperform for others? Is it a kanban card which sparkles more brightly? Is it better charts on the wall? Or is it the investment in people made in the context of process excellence? And, if so, just why is this the case?
It's a long book. You won't read it in one setting. Similar to Liker's other books, there is just a lot to work through. There are more case studies here which will add for some readers and clutter for others. But, face it, it is tough to make a process-oriented business work so don't be surprised you'll have to work to understand this at a depth to be sufficiently useful.
This book reaches the level of Womack and Jones' "Lean Thinking" and Spears' "Chasing the Rabbit" as necessary books for Lean leaders to read and know.
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