A Look Back at Posts About Visiting Toyota Plants in Texas and Japan


Today, I'll be touring the Toyota truck plant in San Antonio again, the plant known as TMMTX. I'm there with our “Symposium on Learning Organizations” group, all 40 of us.

I always try to go in with a certain thing to look for during the tour, sometimes intentionally looking away from the assembly line. This time, I'm going to try to look for evidence of Statistical Process Control (SPC) or “control charts” on metrics boards.

I'm also going to keep an eye out for quality or safety slogans or posters, as my friend Sam Selay wrote about recently on LinkedIn (and there are a lot of comments, including mine). The post is no longer available — sadly, Sam passed away a few years back.

As I commented:

“When I get to visit the Toyota plant in San Antonio this week, I will look for signs. I know they post reminders about specific safety practices (don't walk and text, don't walk with hands in pockets) but stuff like that is more actionable than general slogans. And would a plant manager lead by example and call out unsafe behaviors when they see them? That matters more than signs.”

Dave Condinho replied:

When I toured Toyota on my first day of work, I wasn't aware of the “Stop”, “Look” & “Point” safety standard as I crossed an aisle. A Manager quickly came over to show me what I did wrong and why it was important that everyone follow the standard. I was grateful to see Managers and Leaders lead by example and correct those that do not follow the rules.

Below are some blog posts about previous visits to Toyota plants – San Antonio (where I first visited in 2010) and Japan (first visited in 2012). I'll get to see Toyota plants in Texas and Japan within a span of 14 days, since I leave for Japan next Friday. I'll have fresh memories of TMMTX to compare to the plant I'll see there.

Further down, I will also link to a series of blog posts I wrote about visiting the NUMMI plant back in 2005 when it was a joint venture between Toyota and GM (that building now houses the Tesla plant, as I've blogged about).

Have you visited these plants? If so, what have you learned?

If you haven't visited, what would you hope to see, experience, and learn? How would you apply those lessons to your workplace?

Here is a video that I made for a visiting Dutch healthcare group a few years ago, with the intent of helping them prep for the tour and to help them make the most out of their visit.

Thanks for reading and watching.

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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.


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