I recorded an upcoming LeanBlog Podcast with Steven J. Spear yesterday. He’s promoting his new book Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance the Competition and How Great Companies Can Catch Up and Win. I’ll post a full review, but initial reading is very fascinating (and I’ve heard some of the stories and the thesis of his book during a few of his speaking engagements). I think this is going to become required reading in the Lean world, his book. Has anyone read it yet?
So, I asked Steve about how he got started with Lean. When working for Toyota in Japan (in the 1980s), he was first sent to work the assembly line at a different company. This was done so, when he came to Toyota, they had “created the opportunity to be surprised.” Spear had to first see a non-Toyota factory so he could be surprised by how Toyota did things.
He generalized the comment and said that they key to Toyota’s culture is “creating opportunities to be surprised.” What an interesting thought. Most companies hate surprised. They hate problems. I guess that’s one of the fundamental differences that’s hard to copy.
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