"Toyota Culture" is Out


Jeffrey Liker's new book on Toyota Culture: The Heart and Soul of the Toyota Way is out. I'm getting a copy on Tuesday and hope to post a review ASAP. If anyone else is reading it, feel free to share comments here.

Update: I am recording a podcast interview with Dr. Liker on January 27. If you have questions for him, email me, or call the Lean Line to record an audio question. You can catch earlier discussions with him here and here.

Maybe this should be “culture week” here on the blog. On Tuesday, I'm attending the Lean Enterprise Institute class on “Creating a Sustainable Lean Culture” here in Dallas (anyone else attending???)

If anyone has stories to share about your own “lean culture” efforts, post a comment or email me using the link in left-hand column. Anything emailed to me will only be published with your express permission and I'll respect any needs for anonymity. Are you successfully transitioning to a “lean culture?” What are you struggling with?

I've been fortunate to be working one hospital laboratory department, in particular, that is doing some really good work toward becoming more lean in their management approach and culture (kaizen, problem solving, and other lean methods). Maybe I can ask their director to share some thoughts on their experiences. Lots of good work going on in other hospitals too, that's very encouraging.

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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. I bought the book last week and spent the evening reading it straight through, as lean people will tend to do.

    I was elated to find this iteration to be more centered around the power of the culture transformation of TPS and ‘lean’ rather than the process/document-driven feeling I came away with from Liker’s other books.

    Providing a safe platform for creating the lean culture within a manufacturing organization is most fundamental to the program’s success.

    I was also glad to find ample backstory and picture documentation from Toyota to provide a better sense of place in the ergonomic and safety section of the book. The section of the ‘hammer-fitted’ bumper installation was the best of them all.

    As a manufacturer I find many, many ideas to use beginning on Monday but I really don’t understand how healthcare people will be able to apply much from TPS.

    Anyway, I enjoy your blog and keep up thegood work.

  2. WOW – did that RSS feed catch my eye when I signed on to the internet cause my brain read Toyota Culture is Out! not realizing it was the book. LOL I too am looking forward to this.
    Linda Fay

  3. To Linda – Ah, ambiguous language on my part! Yes, the book is available… :-)

    To Rearden: hospitals are like other workplaces with people — so the culture aspects are as applicable as in factories:

    1) people aren’t always listened to by their supervisors (so the need the lean culture idea of engaging and listening to your employees’ ideas applies)

    2) people face the same problems every day and band-aid or workaround the problems, hence the need for root-cause problem solving and prevention (those aspects of lean culture)

    3) quality often comes through inspection and telling people to be careful, so error proofing and standardized work are critical.

    4) managers are often unaware of problems and waste, so “gemba time” is critical and something that’s typically very new to the culture at a hospital.

    If any lean thinkers or experienced lean practitioners had a chance for hospital “gemba time” would be really surprised by the waste and the problems that employees face (and the risk to patients).

    I’m going to post, probably tomorrow morning, a really eye opening article about a nurse’s daily activities (from the WSJ), so please come back for that (and read my book when it comes out!)

  4. OK, great, I’m sure it is good. I am beginning to think Dr. Liker is now milking the Toyota cash cow now. Maybe he should branch out a little and look at the way some other successful companies approach lean. Only Toyota can be Toyota and Dr. Liker will soon be reduced to in-depth examinations of their break rooms for deeper understanding of their “way.” Come on, Jeffrey, let it go and move on already. (Yeah, I’m getting a little cynical.)

  5. Mark,
    You will enjoy this book, I have had the good fortune to read the pre-publication material (I work with Optiprise) and it is really great stuff. The concept of how you should Attract, Develop, Engage, and Inspire your people is something our typical companies top heavy with MBA’s will have a very hard time getting their minds wrapped around.
    As to the comments by anonymous, there are not a lot of companies that do Production Systems well that will let writes have free access to study and write about their system. I would like to see a real in-depth study of Danaher and see how they are using their system, but they appear to not want to be quite so open as Toyota.
    As for hospitals, all you have to do is get sick or have your family get sick and you are forced to stand in the Ohno Circle for hours…

  6. ‘ve not read this book (although I have read two of Liker’s other books and thought they were very good).
    However, I’m aware that a former Toyota quality control manager collapsed and died while at work at 0400, and a court in Japan recently accepted his wife’s claim that his death was due to overwork.

    It would appear that extremely long hours may be part of the Toyota culture as well.



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