"Boneheads" at Toyota?


WSJ.com – Toyota May Delay New Models To Address Rising Quality Issues:

I posted this article last week, but I looked at it again before recording a new Podcast interview with Norm Bodek. This part at the bottom of the WSJ article jumped out at me:

“Still, the fast pace of new-model launches — and pressure to keep product launches on schedule — has given rise to what another senior engineer calls ‘bonehead' mistakes.”

Two questions come to mind, both related to the TPS notion of “respect for people.”

1) How much pressure are the engineers under to keep things on schedule at all costs? Does that respect people to put them under so much pressure, especially if quality suffers? It's hard to see, on the surface, how this is any different than the “move the metal” mentality I lived through at GM — quantity and schedule were pushed over quality (in 1995, before we got a new NUMMI-trained plant manager at my plant in 1996, at least).

2) I'm surprised to hear a Toyota person call people (or their mistakes) a “bonehead,” or at least I'm surprised to hear it publicly. If there are quality mistakes, shouldn't the Toyota people be looking at the system rather than pointing fingers?


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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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