Lean implementations, operational excellence initiatives, and even specifically, the Toyota Production System (TPS) are often misconstrued as simply a methodology focused on the formulaic implementation of tools. In a recent book entitled The Toyota Template: The Plan for Just-In-Time and Culture Change Beyond Lean Tools, the author -- Phil Ledbetter -- posits that the building of TPS, with the goal to eliminate waste, evolved as problems were encountered and solutions put in place and a wonderful byproduct of it was the growth of a problem-solving culture throughout Toyota that is unique in the business world. I spoke with Phil this month and asked him: “What is the Toyota template and how does it help sustain a Lean implementation?” Here is his response:
The Toyota template is about the relevance of the Toyota Production System to any type of business today. It succinctly identifies the key elements, places them in a logical, sequential or of implementation, and explains how each contributed to the formation of the Toyota culture. It's a blueprint for any business interested in a true lean transformation. The gold standard is Toyota and my book, The Toyota Template, demonstrates how businesses can use the "template" to arrive at a truly Lean, just-in-time production system.
Specifically, The Toyota Template explains the critically important elements of the Toyota Production System, analyzes the sequence of implementation as the system developed, and places these elements in a logical order of implementation based on the history and current knowledge. In addition, it addresses the effect of each element on the culture and some of the reasons for Lean implementation failures, including the problem with the value stream mapping.
Fujio Cho, Ohno protege' and former Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, has said, "Many good companies have respect for individuals, and practice kaizen and other TPS tools.... But what is important is having all the elements together as a system. It must be practiced every day in a very consistent manner, not in spurts." The Toyota Template shows exactly how to develop this system.
What do you feel are the major hindrances to a successful and long-term Lean implementation?
Toyota is showing record results again in the car industry both in terms of sales and operational profitability. Yet, Akio Toyoda, it’s President is quoted in several outlets saying: “Over the next 100 years, there is no guarantee that automobile […]
What are Quality Standards?
They are professional standards developed and endorsed by the American Society for Quality Government Division as international best practice standards for government. There are three standards that collectively apply to every area of government operations, and provide a framework for excellence. There is a standard for process management, system management (including project management), and for aligned leadership objectives. One or more of these standards align with the responsibility of every supervisor, manager, and executive in every government agency. Each provides a measurable standard, with uniform and objective criteria, that evaluate the design and application of best practice operational practices. The systematic use of quality standards provides the first-ever opportunity for an organizational scorecard, that measures the extent of quality practice in government.
Can’t we do the same thing with organization-wide deployment of Lean Six Sigma?
No. The problem with most traditional Lean Six Sigma and DMAIC improvement efforts is that they are not sustainable over the long term, and require a continual “push” from leadership. Because their success requires each practitioner to dedicate current effort for longer-term gain, busy organizations often curtail these best practices to resolve short-term crises. If executive recognition ever wavers, or if leadership changes, the commitment to best practice operation also disappears. The use of Quality Standards changes this dynamic, by allowing executives to create a report on the existence and use of quality practices in their organization, so that executives are at last able to “see” where individual managers are maintaining best practice, and where efforts are lapsing. It will also allow organizations to create external reviews, and audit organizations to report on the continuing commitment to quality practices within every government organization. This reporting ensures that Lean and DMAIC practices are established, maintained, and sustained. No longer will the practice of quality be "invisible."
How do we know they work?
Quality Standards have been endorsed by the Government Division of the American Society for Quality as an international best practice standard for Government. A recent white paper of the National Academy of Public Administration on Strengthening Organizational Performance in Government has also endorsed the standards. The Process Management Standard is a part of the Process Management Handbook for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and numerous government jurisdictions have found them to be a tool for organizational capacity reviews, both to evaluate current efforts and to offer further suggestions on the means and methods of improvement.
How can we get started?
This book provides the logic and approach behind the standards, and introduces each with its evaluation criteria, and the scoring plan. It is important and foundational, for those who will be using the standards, for those reviewing them, and for leadership who want to understand the benefits and the logic being followed. Each organization using the standards should plan to provide introductory training for all its managers and supervisors, to help them in identifying the key processes and systems that drive organizational results, and to help them define best operational practices for each. The effort should then transition to periodic review of each defined process and system, both to ensure the integrity of the approach, and to evaluate the next steps to its improvement.
What are the changes in the second edition book?
The second edition includes the newest revision to the system management standard, which applies to the work of executive managers, program office managers, and project managers. It completes the organizational framework by challenging those managers to define milestones of value creation relative to the work of their office, with the causes of success in each milestone. In addition, it allows the development of operational metrics and indicators. It is through the integrated definition of key processes and systems that an entire agile framework can be completed. The second edition looks ahead to the role of leadership in developing excellent performance through application of the Aligned Leadership Objectives Standard.
Do any readers currently work in the public sector? What do you think of Richard's thoughts? Have you adopted these quality standards in your organization?
I had the chance to speak with Jonathan Løw about this book, and one of the main questions I asked was: "What inspired you to compile the thoughts of these particular entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders?" Here is his complete response:
I spoke with the author, Paul D. Fisher, this past week and asked him: “What exactly is the ‘followership crisis’ and how does it affect the workplace?” Here is his full response:
Followership is the social wealth-building process that creates and sustains a rising middle class through labor productivity. We are in a global social and economic growth crisis because of the slow decline of followership since the 1970s. And the support system we usually use to build it -- media, government, education and institutions of all kind -- have proven themselves unable to help us cope.
As much as they’d like to, our companies are failing to address it too. Business growth is stunted by what we think of as the declining commitment and loyalty of our employees and customers. Our attempts to regenerate followership have been reduced to an endless string of employee engagement programs and hollow content marketing and branding efforts that have provided us no competitive advantage.
To gain that competitive advantage, companies must begin dealing effectively with structural deficits in their social architecture – the systematic means they use to develop purpose, pursue quality, and manage accountability with all their stakeholders. History shows us it has always been the role of business to pull us out of the social tailspin created when higher forms of human need transcend lower ones to help people cope inside their more isolated, robotized and disconnected work places.
For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent Facebook post about reforming Facebook by first analyzing “questions of history, civics, political philosophy, media, government and technology” is a surely signal he believes Facebook’s social architecture will not survive into the future without significant modification.
And Warren Buffett’s recent comment on health care -- calling it a “tapeworm on the American economy” (a comment he surely doesn’t personally believe) -- is his attempt to start a national conversation in which society will decide if health care is simply an uncontrolled cost of our manufacturing economy or a model for socially negotiated growth that we should all emulate.
The companies of tomorrow will not grow without reallocating some of the costs of their inclusion and engagement PR campaigns to building the social growth architecture they need to survive in this new environment. And business leaders like Zuckerberg and Buffett are showing us that the first step is to analyze our followership DNA.
Here is a video of Paul discussing the concept:
What do you think of Paul's perspective? Do you you feel it is important for your organization to focus on "social capital"?