Podcast #300 – Tracey & Ernie Richardson, The Toyota Engagement Equation


My guests for Episode #300 of the podcast are Tracey and Ernie Richardson, authors of the excellent book titled:

The Toyota Engagement Equation: How to Understand and Implement Continuous Improvement Thinking in Any Organization

The book is full of solid insights and personal experiences from their time working for Toyota in Georgetown, Kentucky at the plant known as TMMK (Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky).

You can find their book's website or the website for their consulting work, TeachingLean.com. Tracey and Ernie are both faculty members for the Lean Enterprise Institute and you can find them on Twitter as @Tracey_san and @Ernie_san_. Tracey's blog is called The Toyota Gal.

In our podcast, we talk about their experiences at Toyota, including lessons they've learned about problem solving, people development, and what they call “D and A” – discipline and accountability. We also talk about Ernie's experience within health clinics at Toyota and other healthcare organizations.

I hope you enjoy the discussion even if you work in healthcare or another realm outside of manufacturing.

Streaming Player (Run Time 49:26)

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For a link to use for this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/300

For earlier episodes of my podcast, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS, through Android apps, or via Apple iTunes.  You can also subscribe and listen via Stitcher.

Links, Topics, and Questions:

  • Tracey started at the TMMK plant in Georgetown, Kentucky in 1988, working in production
  • Ernie started working in powertrain production and then moved into HR
    • He was able to help show that Lean works everywhere, even in non-production settings (including health clinics that were started at Toyota North America sites).
    • Tools, philosophy, and culture of Lean / TPS apply in many settings
  • The Ohio State MBOE program
  • Tracey's faculty page on the LEI website | Ernie's page
  • You can find them on LinkedIn: Tracey and Ernie
  • Why write this book after there are already so many about Toyota? What was the spark and the motivation for writing?
  • Is it harder to learn Lean / TPS lessons when you already have older habits in place?
    • Toyota taught them to be open to change… learn from your old habits and processes… what can we take from that?
    • “But we don't use the excuse of we don't have time for it.”
  • Every single person there had a development plan, developed with the person
    • “Who did you develop today?”
  • David Meier was her first Group Leader there (hear my podcasts with him… and there is a new one coming soon)
  • “Go see, ask why, show respect” – leaders go to see the problem the team member is seeing and facing
  • What does “respect for people” mean to you?
    • “Making people who make cars”
    • Servant leadership… how can a leader make people's job easier and more effective?
    • The Toyota “green book” – info
  • “Toyota's not a perfect company… nobody's perfect. The Japanese trainers would get scared if there weren't problems.”
  • What's the danger of a “tools only” approach when trying to emulate Toyota?
  • DNA (D and A) — discipline and accountability… how do you define those words?
    • Discipline around standards is the foundation for improvement (having discipline vs. being disciplined)
    • “If you don't have a standard then it's impossible to truly measure continuous improvement.”
    • You have to respect a person by telling them the reasons why to do something
    • “I don't think that not following the standard was an option.”
    • If there's a better way, there needs to be a way to improve the standard.
    • “Asking why the person is not following the standard… Not penalizing the person if the process is bad”
  • What would you do in healthcare when the systems or processes are bad, where there's not really a good solid standard?
    • “Standards are put in place for processes where the output needs to be controlled. And we put enough standardization in place to be able to control the output but not so much that it constricts the process or keeps a person from being able to perform.”
    • Ernie's experience in the clinics at Toyota and hospitals
    • “Enough standardization” – a foundation, not a roadblock
    • All processes can have a standard… do you need a standard?
    • The biggest problem is people not being able to see the outcome of what standardization would do for them.
    • Mark: We shouldn't standardize for the sake of standardizing
    • Ernie: Once healthcare providers see the benefits, they become big advocates.
    • Tracey: Shifting from the “5 whos” and “root blame.” Don't blame people for a broken process, especially if people aren't trained properly
    • What does the customer (patient, caregiver) need the process to produce?
    • Toyota aims to reduce “mental burden” of how many decisions are being made within a process or a window of time.
  • E cubed (E^3) – everybody engaged every day…
    • It's the “Thinking Production System.” Encouraging people to think and being engaged in looking for abnormality from standards.
    • The essence is the “Thinking People System”
  • If we sell, tell, and convince people… it's going to be very difficult to have sustainable standards
    • If you engage, involve, and empower people to create a standard together, it works much better
    • We knew the standard was probably going to change… we wanted it to.

Video and Webinars With The Richardsons:

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