Book review: The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker

Full disclosure – I didn’t read this book, I listened to it via an audiobook that I bought on iTunes. Actually I haven’t listened to ALL of it because it can get really dry in some places (after about an hour) but can I please write a review anyway? Thanks.

So, car manufacturing. How do you unseat GM as the number one car manufacturer? Reinvent the wheel? No, you simply continuously improve the wheel until it basically propels itself uphill. The process of continuous improvement is called ‘kaizen’ in Japanese.

The target vocabulary for today is

  • Kaizen – continuous improvement (for those who were not paying attention)
  • Muri – waste
  • Anban – signaling system

What Toyota have been able to do is create a production system that repeatedly outperforms any other through a process of eliminating waste (muri), investing in their employees and an eternal learning cycle – and a few other things. What does ‘anban’ have to do with this? Buy the book.

I picked up this title because I wanted to learn a thing or two about how I can improve the work that I do. No, I don’t make cars but we are all working with the same capital, Toyota and I, knowledge.

Almost every other day as my computer sloooowly does what I try and tell it to do I wonder if there could be a better way to do what I am trying to do. That is the same question Toyota asks themselves, apparently. Web standards are evolving and who knows how long a piece of software takes to come out of beta – if ever. This means I have to stay current, and hopefully ahead, by developing a learning habit. Toyota has taken this to near perfection. For example, when a mistake is made on the production liner there are huge televisions that display the mistake to everyone so it is not repeated – without punishing whoever made the mistake; that will soon defeat the purpose.

In fact when I was reading “Managing in the Nex Society” Drucker remarked that Toyota is rumoured to be thinking of offering their expertise in effeciency as a service. Knowledge is like the wind, it has no boundaries. This is a good jump-off point to . . .


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