Toyota, Moving Northward


New York Times

Without getting into politics (is Toyota growing in Canada because of their education and health care systems, as proposed by Krugman), when reading this something struck me about this “Canada vs. Alabama” argument that came up a few weeks back.

Krugman says, “What made Toyota so sensitive to labor quality issues? Maybe we should discount remarks from the president of the Toronto-based Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, who claimed that the educational level in the Southern United States was so low that trainers for Japanese plants in Alabama had to use “pictorials” to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech equipment.”

Isn't it possible that the use of “pictorals” is just a best practice around clear, understandable standard work? I have Toyota publications that use “pictorals” to describe TPS/lean concepts. I don't think they did that because they thought their readers were stupid. I'd rather see work instructions with photos and diagrams instead of the typical American ISO-900x work instructions with tons of words that can be misinterpreted.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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