A Speech by Toyota’s Gary Convis


    “Toyota's Globalization Takes Shape through the Camry”

    The link above the full text of a speech by Gary Convis, who I really admire as a lean leader.

    Some excerpts:

    “To be a successful automaker or supplier in today's competitive world, I believe every single person involved in your value chain must fully understand the company's mission and direction, and execute their roles perfectly to move toward shared goals.”

    This statement is true even if you replace “automaker” with “hospital” or “software company.”

    Convis talks about the development of their new Camry, a pretty striking-looking car for a family sedan, in my opinion.

    He talks about the global nature of Camry development and production — proof that Toyota trusts and values those outside of Japan:

    “The last generation Camry was produced in five plants. For this generation, we nearly doubled the number of plants to eight. And the new Camry would be introduced around the globe at a pace that was 20 percent faster.

    So we had to find a better way. In the past, a “global” vehicle such as the Camry or Corolla would have design functions centered in Japan. And while manufacturing was closely involved in the process, each plant would be responsible for their individual tooling and assembly procedures.

    But not this time… thanks to something we call the Global Production Center, or GPC. …..

    Each of the eight Camry plants around the world was assigned a certain set of processes to develop… and share the details with the other plants.”

    Convis mentions all of the languages involved in the process (“Conversations went back and forth in English and Japanese, of course, but there was also Chinese, Russian, and Thai. And there might have been a few others that I didn't recognize!”). So how did they communicate? Using technology and visual methods, in this case a video:

    “We accomplished this by using a number of methods, but one of the key ones was something we call visual manuals. A visual manual is a short video of a specific Camry process that supplements our written materials, with the details and key points highlighted in the five languages I mentioned earlier.”

    There is also a great story about using “creativity over capital” in solving what would have otherwise been a problem in the handoff between design and manufacturing.

    Anyway, lots of good stuff, check out his speech. Here are more links to blog posts I've written about Convis.

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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.


    1. For me it is important in every organization that it’s members no matter how high or low the position must know their role in the system. It is also important for them to know and believe that they are as important as all the others. When memebers are motivated to perform their tasks to the fullest degree, it is not unfair to state that the organization will prosper.


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