Toyota’s Growth, Globalization, and Training


New York Times Article

Here's a recent article on Toyota's globalization — how to grow and spread The Toyota Way quickly, yet effectively as they expand around the world.

“It's extremely important to have the same common Toyota Way infiltrated to employees in all corners of the world,” said Katsuaki Watanabe, the company's president. “But on the other hand, in each corner of the world, in each region, there are inherent characteristics that need to be respected.” 

One thing that I found interesting was the illustrations of how Toyota uses innovative technologies for training employees in doing quality work:

Such training is essential in places like China, where Toyota found that some of its newest employees had never driven the cars they were hired to build.

At Motomachi, more than 3,000 tasks on the assembly line have been translated into video manuals that are displayed on laptop computers above 30 simulated workstations, situated where their functions would be carried out inside the factory.

The videos show everything from the correct way to hold a screw to the best way to hold an air gun so that a worker's hand will not tire in a few hours.

I think it illustrates how the Toyota Production System evolves. I've had people insist before that Toyota does standardized work instructions with paper and pencil — therefore, everybody should. It sounds like the Toyota of the past did that… why should anyone copy their own methods exactly, instead of progressing with new technologies (such as video). Toyota isn't stuck in their own past, why should we be?

There's also a story in there about how Toyota has moved to “kitting,” the practice of delivering a tote of parts for a specific vehicle instead of storing many parts line side, to be selected by employees. A side benefit is that older employees, who are still guaranteed in Japan, can perform less strenuous material handling jobs while younger employees can do the assembly work more quickly.


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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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