Interesting Comment on a Toyota Post


My blogging will be relatively light this week, given some holiday time off, family visiting, and a short trip for New Year's.

There's nothing lazier, I guess, than linking to a reader comment, but I had a new comment from a Toyota person on a post from earlier this year.From this post (“NPR Does a Great Job of Covering Toyota“), I had a new comment yesterday from Hilary in Singapore, she says she works for Toyota. She wrote:

I work for Toyota's Asian regional office in Singapore doing Kaizen for dealer operations. The biggest trend we find in improving the processes is that you may have the best standard of all, but to get the frontline staff to follow the standard is the difficult part. To do this, the standard should come from their ideas thru constant coaching and mentoring by management. This is in the form of a “senpai”, as Phil probably knows, or in other words, mentor.

The idea of manager as coach and mentor is a powerful part of the Lean approach, as Hilary reinforces. We don't beat people into submission, as managers often want “buy in” when they really want employees to just do as their told. That's not Lean, that sort of browbeating.

She explains this further, and brilliantly:

Once you so called “get it”, you do it almost subconciously, but definitely not forcefully. Toyota management has their way to help you reach that point, which is thru the “senpai” relationship. I've never been scolded or yelled at. My manager's role if something goes wrong, is to ask himself we he can do better next time to support my performance. If the process is not followed, he should be asking what is restricting me from following it. And this is where Toyota's strength is.

As I've often said, thanks to my readers for their amazing contributions to this blog.

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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. To all you lucky Toyota oweners
    Toyota has taken the responsible step of announcing a fault on their vehicles; they have recognised this and recalled every single vehicle in it fleet that may be affected.

    Thus possibly effecting their reputation. I would suggest that this will enhance their reputation.

    I would like to acknowledge Toyota as this strengthens their statement that they produce quality and will not accept anything but Quality, and is a credit to the organisation

    UNLIKE NISSAN who know that they have a problem with their D22 Navara pickup throwing con rods through the engine but make any excuse not to fix them. And state that this is not a safety issue.

    I myself will buy Toyota in the future after this demonstration of commitment to the customer.

    Well done Toyota


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