Podcast #334 – Barry McCarthy on Toyota and “Development Organizations”

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Joining me for Episode #334, all the way from Australia, is Barry McCarthy. Barry spent more than 15 years in leadership roles with Toyota in Australia and now works as an Associate with consulting firm Honsha.

We were able to spend a lot of time talking when I participated in Honsha's Executive Development Mission trip to Japan late last year.

One thing we talked about quite a bit was Barry's experience with Toyota being “a development company,” as I blogged about here.

Click to read all posts about the Honsha Trip

In our discussion, Barry talks about why he was “skeptical” about Lean before he joined Toyota. But, he evolved as Toyota continues to evolve. Why is Barry afraid that Lean (outside of Toyota) might get stuck in the past? We'll talk about all of that and more.


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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/334.

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Questions, Topics, and Links:

Q: Can you please introduce yourself… before Toyota, what you did at Toyota, and how that came to an end…

             A brief work history before Toyota
             Outline of what I did at Toyota
             The closure of Automotive and some of what I am working on now

Q: Can you elaborate on being skeptical about Lean at first? Was it going to be “extra work” for him at the company before Toyota?

Q:  “many of the listeners will have people in their organisation saying “yes this is fine for making cars” (patients aren't cars… planes are more complicated than cars) – how would you suggest they put this into a context that will help them engage these people?

Another good point to discuss.  Here I will talk about what I think lean is in its most basic.  “There's a risk that Lean becomes stuck in the past… Toyota is always changing.” Toyota restructured last year and the TPS group was moved out of manufacturing since TPS is about more than manufacturing.

Q: Point #1 of The Toyota Way is about making decisions with the long-term perspective, even at the expense of the short-term… but organizations that say they are copying Toyota via “Lean” rarely ask about how they can combine more long-term focused…

“Toyota's very good at managing paradox.”

Barry McCarthy

Next theme that will be an easy segue into the philosophy of lean and the heart of long term thinking – I am going to talk to some key points from Sakichi Toyoda and how what he said and did is still very relevant today and into the future.

Are there parallels between Sakichi Toyoda and Steve Jobs?

Q: What are some of the differences that you see between Toyota and other companies? – Here I will identify Organising – one of the points I spoke about in Japan.

I am going to follow with Developing and HRD and integration patterns that help developing – I will give an example of FMDS or Floor Management Development Systems.

“Eiji Toyoda” was good at balancing hard-liners and soft-liners.”

In the 1990s, Toyota shifted more toward soft-liners.

Quality Circles are a development system.

Are “hundreds of KPIs” too many?

Q: Can you talk more about the Australia plant closures and your transition?

Q: What are you doing now?


Thanks for listening!

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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.

2 Comments
  1. This is an excellent podcast. Very informative.

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