The Pig Pile on Toyota

O.k., I didn't sleep well and this article annoyed me. So bear with me...the media machine is rumbling, stumbling and bumbling along...from Smartplanet, another clone article piles on lean manufacturing principles, or as they claim -lack there of, as the problem behind the gas pedal recall. They can say this at Smartplanet because they practice lean principles there and can project there lean experience over the Toyota company experience and pinpoint the problem in a 750 word article. They have knowledge.

Step up to the feeding trough and have some slops...

Is anybody going to do some insightful work on this story that doesn't blame:

-global business
-a management approach
-an organizational culture
-American employees for not being Japanese employees

Is anybody going to discuss sound principles that may have been overlooked, like testing, engineering, etc., things that have NOTHING to do with lean manufacturing? Or is the answer as simple as that claimed in this article: Japanese managers couldn't pass on their wisdom by "word of mouth?" Enough of the mystical Toyota bullshit, lets get down to the nuts and bolts of real problem solving - because while we are blathering on about management principles, Toyota stepped up and ate a whole pig trough of humble pie before the world and recalled over 9 million vehicles...do we seriously believe they aren't looking under every stone, but only focusing on their lean manufacturing philosophy?

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At February 8, 2010 at 8:33 PM , Blogger joemckendrick said...

Thanks for the observations... The point in my SmartPlanet article was that lean principles are sound, but sometimes may get lost in the complexity of a growing business with many, many suppliers who may or may not adhere so closely to lean.

I personally think Toyota has incredible products, I've driven nothing but since 1990. One car was still running like new after 15 years!

At February 9, 2010 at 7:56 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Joe,

Thanks for posting your comment. The article did get under my skin though because there seems to be a tendency in the media to blame the weapon and not the perpetrator. Lean manufacturing itself did not cause this problem.

In the article, you say: "Toyota may have abandoned its lean principles as it grew into a global powerhouse with many moving parts. As Toyota grew, it fell prey to the same “big-company disease” that humbled General Motors"

That is all well and good, but lean manufacturing principles has nothing to do with the basic blocking and tackling of engineering, testing, validation, supplier relationships, etc. Lean principles do have something to do with improving those things, but certainly do not fuel the engine that makes them go.

The gaps lie squarely with the system itself and the leaders that created, maintain and improve that system.

At August 1, 2012 at 1:33 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for posting your comment.Great description of "respect for humanity." Remember also, even if your core strategy isn't necessarily focused on growth, the focus on delivering greater value for you customer will bring growth. When a business out performs their competitors the growth comes. In the meantime use the opportunity to invest even more in your greatest asset, people. lean manufacturing


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