Accelerating the Pace of Learning

Just-Auto.com reported today that next year Toyota will open a Global Production Centre in the UK to train European workers. There is already a centre in Japan that opened 2 years ago, and another is scheduled to open next year in the US.

Shinichi Sasaki, CEO of Toyota Motor Europe was referenced as admitting Toyota’s fast growth has led to rapid recruitment and has hurt it’s ‘built-in quality’ culture. Sasaki insists that quality must be “built in” to the process, not “inspected out.” This means that all parts of the process – manufacturing, but also design, r&d, purchasing and human resources – must assure quality.

Of course this is all nothing new to anyone who has ever studied the Toyota Production System and the culture it has produced. What is new is this approach to training at a rapid rate. How quickly will new workers be able to truly absorb the culture? Are there enough masters to go around to be mentors and examples? Will the culture be diluted?

I have no doubt Toyota will approach this new training format with a continuous improvement mindset and that over time it will deliver exactly what is expected. The big question for me is when? And will it be quick enough to support their current pace of expansion?

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Luke Van Dongen

Luke, an auto industry engineering veteran, blogged here from 2005 to 2006.

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