What Makes Toyota So Formidable

A fictitious fan write:
"Dear Mike:

I'd really like to know what makes Toyota such a juggernaut, but I have ADD and could never finish Taiichi Ohno's book. Is there a single article that I could read to understand what the real secret is? And could it showcase Americans applying the secret so it doesn't appear to be some Japanese cultural mumbo-jumbo?



Well, my friend, today is your lucky day! This Fast Company article does exactly that. Here's the money quote:
"If you go to the Big Three, you'd find improvement projects just like you'd find at Georgetown," says Jeffrey Liker, a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan and author of The Toyota Way, a classic exploration of Toyota's methods. "But they would be led by some kind of engineering group, or a Six Sigma black belt, or a lean-manufacturing guru of some kind.

"They might even do as good a job as they did at [Toyota's Georgetown, KY plant]. But here's the thing. Then they'd turn that project into a PowerPoint. They'd present it at every place in the whole company. They'd say, 'Look what we did!' In a year, that happens a couple of times in a whole plant for the Big Three. And it would get all kinds of publicity in the company.

"Toyota," Liker says, "is doing it in every single department, every single day. They're doing it on their own"--no black belts--"and they're doing it regularly, not just once."

Sounds a lot like When Bad Things Happen To Good Concepts, only better. Do go read the whole thing. The specific examples are stunning; the message crystal clear. But like so many other "secrets", challenge is to make the effort to apply it to your own situation.

[h/t: Rob Patterson]

posted by Mike at 7:55 AM


Blogger Curious Cat said...

After you read that article if you want to keep going here are some more good articles on lean manufacturing.

4:01 PM  
Blogger roobaron said...

Thanks for the link to that Toyota article. Great stuff.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Mike said...


You are very welcome, and thank you for stopping by!


P.S. Sorry for the slow response. My spam filter ate the comment notification!

7:16 PM  
Blogger Mike said...


I thank you for linking to that list. Good stuff!


7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Toyota dealership in early afternoon. I met very nice sales woman. I test drove the Toyota Matrix with auto and manual transmission each. It was nice. It has same interior as Pontiac Vibe. One odd thing is that even both toyota matrix parts are the same with different transmission; it has different seat feel. One with manual transmission is aching my back. I don't like the bit inner curve seat. I prefer the one with lower bigger pad to force my back to straighten. The Toyota Matrix with auto transmission has that one. Ah well, I am sure that there is another car with similar lower pad somewhere. It is not bad ride. I drove the exact color as image shown. It costs $19,500 after taxes and etc. So, I would take the Pontiac Vibe for $18,000 over it for sure! Good bye, Toyota Matrix. It's nice to know ya!

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks very much,

Enjoyed the article.

It's good to read well written and thoughtful content.

Chuck Burns

1:42 AM  
Blogger Mike said...


Thanks for the kind words. I was disappointed to read that Toyota will suffer its first loss in 70 years. If they're vulnerable in this economy, who isn't?


7:41 AM  
Blogger anywhere_Smile said...

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10:23 PM  

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