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The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence through Leadership Development Hardcover – November 7, 2011
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The missing link to long-term Lean success! Despite the fact that companies worldwide have adopted Lean production, none has sustained the same levels of excellence as Toyota. Why? Leadership. In The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership, Jeffrey Liker and Gary L. Convis, a former executive V.P. and managing officer of Toyota, help executives and senior managers get employees to refocus their efforts--from simply performing their singular function to continuously improving in collaboration across the organization. Case studies from Toyota clearly illustrate the methods that create powerful, effective Lean leadership. Jeffrey Liker, author of the popular Toyota Way books, is the acknowledged expert on Toyota processes. He is professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. After his executive leadership at Toyota, Gary L. Convis became the CEO of Dana Holding Corporation, a $6.1 billion supplier to the global automotive, commercial vehicle, and off-highway markets, and helped lead it to a successful turnaround from bankruptcy.
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+ Topic is spot on: It's all about leadership
+ Describes what leadership is, and how to create more of it ("shu ha ri" which is Toyota's apprentice / Socratic Method model)
+ Answers common questions (can lean be copied by Western companies, how do I sustain gains)
- Would prefer more specific science from a wider pool of authors; credibility would benefit from citing more studies
- Some the figures and tables are not as well constructed and/or informative as I would have hoped
- Indirectly refer to workers as being at the bottom and leaders at the top despite periodically emphasizing the opposite - a mixed message that I hope they fix
> Neither verbose, nor concise - sort of an in between
Bottom line: Highly recommended, 5 stars. Hard to put down once I started reading it. Don't let 3 pro and 3 con dissuade you from getting this book; this book really gets to the heart of, "Why is lean so hard to copy?" The short answer they provide is that it can't because it must be created. Superb!
- The book provides missing link to fully understand how a lean organization is built up, nurtured and continuously improved. Simply speaking, you cannot say lean organization without saying lean leadership. Through a balance of theory, practical steps and story telling, Liker & Convis describe the essential ingredients for organizations to prosper in the decade to come. It is an easy read, with concepts that challenges thinking of most contemporary businesses, and once you start thinking of the implications, it even challenges your individual contributions to the world of work.
- Confirmation that the five values that define Toyota Way: spirit of challenge, Kaizen, genchi genbatsu (go and see to deeply understand), teamwork, and respect, do not automatically result in leadership. Trust is an essential, if not the key, element of leadership. Hard cuts, though sometimes inevitable as the Dana case study shows, must be a last resort.
- Liker & Convis offer a clear explanation of Toyota's leadership development model. Basically, this model consists of 4 levels: (1)commit to self-development, (2) coach and develop others,(3) support daily kaizen, (4) create vision and align goals. We see the importance of "True North" as overarching vision, which is central to decision making. We see the importance of lean leadership throughout the hierarchy, a need for shared responsibility according to expertise and the concept of leadership as a team sport. Last but not least, we see the importance of first line managers to provide a role model for the behavior they want to see in place.
- The Toyota Way focuses on culture of leadership rather than metrics or processes, and links the cultivation of leadership, as a leader's primary responsibility. Personally, we were especially impressed by the ways Toyota dealt with its triple crisis (recession, recalls due to technical problems, earthquake & Tsunami). Although facing severe economic problems, the company resisted the temptation to "manage" the crisis by layoffs and used this it as an opportunity to learn and improve instead. In Liker's words: "The recommended solution to these problems wasn't fundamental change but increased attention to fundamentals." This also underscores the interconnection between corporate culture, strategy, and leadership. In other words: attention to culture and leadership is not optional as both have strong impact on the company's business value and success.
- Acknowledgement that not all individuals are predisposed to leadership and that an enabling environment is not enough. An emphasis on self-development, a passion to learn and grow in pursuit of mastery. What we appreciated most was the emphatic exclusion of quick fix solutions and the repeated emphasis on ensuring you start with the right people and deliberately grow leaders from there. Progress is discussed in terms of decades, not even years and definitely not in months. This underscores the long-term if not life-long commitment required to grow a lean organization. If there is a recipe for Toyota's success, according to Liker & Convis "it is a deep, time-consuming, and expensive investment in developing everyone in the organization, and truly believing that your employees are your most precious resource."
- Valuable reference points and benchmarks of lean leadership presented in a way that encouraged us to think "how would we have behaved in that situation," which is an enriching exercise even if you are well versed in the values and principles of lean leadership.
*What we ask ourselves*
- Is leadership still privilege of line management? There are some hints towards leadership as a team sport but it is not fully explored. Isn't there more interplay between coaching employees and receiving feedback from them, aligning and developing yourself by helping others, getting fresh impulses for your vision?
- What are the risks or downsides of lean leadership? What could be a potential pitfall to lead in a lean way? How do lean leaders cope with conflicts fostered by fear as much as denial? Does "Toyota Way" necessarily mean there is no disagreement let alone resistance at all?
- How does it work in other areas than the automotive industry? Are the case studies of lean leadership outside of Toyota? What about the broader context of economic turbulence? Is the Toyota Way to be applied anytime anywhere? Does it guarantee infinite success?
- How we can truly recognize culture in all its dimensions and how would existing cultures map, over time, to lean leadership? Where to start when an organization and its management are not lean yet? What exactly is the path that leads us from traditional command-and-control to lean management?
- Where does the broader context of management, its improvement and renewal fit into lean leadership, as discussed by other authors such as John Kotter, Henry Mintzberg, Stephen Denning, Seth Kahan?
- How do employees perceive and experience lean leadership? Clearly not all employees are destined to be lean leaders, and some that are, will not be on an "accelerated" path. How do lean leaders position themselves relative to employees, and how do they draw on the potential and insights of employees?
- How many organizations would have the capacity and appetite to embark on a journey of lean leadership? It feels to us there is an intermediate step that is buried in Toyota's past that we are not privileged to. Liker & Convis however state that you should be able to reach it in 10 to 30 years. Is that a realistic, let alone attractive option for organizations which face an average life-expectancy of less than 20 years?
*What we got out of the book*
- A stark reminder that true leadership is an essential yet endless, time-consuming and expensive commitment that regresses the moment you stop injecting energy.
- There are no quick fixes and no recipes. Even with lean leadership baked into the culture of Toyota, they still have to pay constant attention to its development.
- The true depth of concepts, like Kaizen and gemba walks, that have been watered down through poor interpretation.
- The significant relationship and context required when coaching leaders.
- Respect for people, not as a gentle approach but offering constant challenges to encourage individuals and teams to reach beyond their comfort zone. Respect must not be an excuse for letting things go. As Akio Toyoda puts it in his foreword: "If we do not give people accurate feedback based on real behavior they are not growing and we are not respecting them."
- A benchmark for what investment in people can be.
- When selecting people, mindset and culture are more important than skill.
Joint review: Dr. Siegfried Kaltenecker and Marius de Beer
I try to apply the principles at work.
It is a good, easy read and VERY informative.
I even bought the overpriced Kindle version so it would be easier to cite for my next college paper.