The Toyota Way at XP Days Germany

TheToyotaWayMarc Evers and I hosted a talk and workshop on the “Toyota Way” at XP Day Germany 2005.

The session contained two parts. In the first part we gave an overview of the 14 principles outlined in the book. In the second part, participants were asked to tell which principles they had experienced. For each principle, they had to tell a short story to the other participants in their working group. Their experience could be positive or negative, indicated by putting a green or red sticker on the card that represented the principle.

Here’s the tally of experiences that we collected:

Principle Green Red
Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals   1
Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface 3  
Use “Pull” systems to avoid overproduction    
Level out the load (Heijunka) 1  
Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time 2  
Standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment 2  
Use visual control so no problems are hidden 4  
Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and process   1
Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy and teach it to others    
Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy    
Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve 2  
Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation (Genchi Genbutsu) 4  
Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly 2  
Become a learning organisation through relentless reflection (Hansei) and continuous improvement (Kaizen) 2  

What can we learn from this very summary overview?

  • Many people recognized the principles. There are only three principles without examples. Interestingly, there’s no example of the “people” processes to develop exceptional leaders and teams.
  • Most of the stories got green stickers. Participants found these principles useful. Or maybe they prefer to tell positive stories.
  • Two principles got a red sticker: the “long term philosophy” and “use only reliable technology” principles. We didn’t have the time at the session to go into the stories, but I’d love to hear the story behind those. If the participants who told those two red stories would like to share them, let me know.

I enjoyed the session. We got lots of questions and debate during the presentation. Some people even called my implementation of some of these principles “extreme” 🙂

I’m particularly happy that the participants recognized these principles in their own work. We can all use management techniques, because we’re all managers, even if some of us only manage ourselves.

Update 11/12/2005: Andreas Zwinkau blogs about the session (in German).

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