Toyota: Way, Way Off-Road


Business Week Online

I knew that Toyota didn't start as a car maker and I knew that they had the business ventures for manufactured homes and products for Japan's aging population, but this article provides an in-depth overview of all of Toyota's businesses. They start sounding more like GE than GM.

“To improve efficiency, the company borrows knowhow from its fabled Toyota Production System with its principles of just-in-time delivery and kaizen, or continuous improvement. Anticorrosive paint is applied evenly to houses' steel frames using methods adopted from car production. And just as in all Toyota's Japan auto factories, a banner proclaiming “good thinking, good products” hangs from the roof. “We follow the Toyota way in housing,” says Senta Morioka, a managing officer at Toyota.

Where possible, Toyota also uses components developed for cars in its houses. One example is the keyless entry system which uses a radio sensor to lock or unlock the doors automatically. And to help keep out burglars, the windows are made of the shatter-resistant glass that Toyota uses in its windshields.”

Why not get into these other “non-core” businesses? Investors can hardly complain, given Toyota's financial success. Toyota's efforts prove that TPS isn't just a system for building cars. The Toyota Way can be applied just about anywhere.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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