Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles (Part 3)

Four years ago, I read the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean” by Andy Carlino and Jamie Flinchbaugh.  The book was very easy to read and insightful.  In the book, Andy and Jamie talk about the five Lean Priniciples which they teach.  I had already read “The Toyota Way” by Jeffrey Liker.  I liked how Andy and Jamie only had 5 principles.  It made it easier to remember, but everywhere I went people refer to the 14 Toyota Principles in “The Toyota Way”.  In light of Toyota’s recent problems people are reluctant to mention Toyota as a high standard, because they don’t want the other person start to tune them out.

In order to help others see the value of five simple principles but not lose the tie to the 14 Toyota principles, I will have a three part series that will look at each of the 14 Toyota principles and examine how they relate to the five principles from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean.”

The first question to answer is: What are the five principles from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean”?  Here they are:

The Five Lean Principles from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean

  1. Directly Observe Work as Activities, Connections, and Flows
  2. Establish High Agreement of both What and How
  3. Systematic Waste Elimination
  4. Systematic Problem Solving
  5. Create a Learning Organization

As you read the comparison, I hope to give a better feel for the behaviors and essence of the five principles from Andy and Jamie.

Part 3 will focus on Principles 11 through 14 of the Toyota Way.

Toyota Principle #11: Respect Your Extended Network of Partners and Suppliers by Challenging Them and Helping Them Improve

A company’s partners and suppliers are a key aspect of the business.  The company should treat them as an extended part of their supply chain and respect them in the same manner all the internal employees are respected.  This creates a fully connected value stream from supplier to customer acting as one entity beyond just the physical walls of the company.  With everyone acting as one, high agreement on improvements and direction can be achieved to create a more efficient value stream (Lean Principle #2).

Once the improvements and the direction of the value stream are agreed upon, then the company can help the partners and suppliers to eliminate waste from their processes (Lean Principle #3).  By eliminating this waste from the entire value stream, the company can reduce its total cost.  This allows them to stay ahead of their competitors and also allows the partners and suppliers to become more profitable and stay in business, creating more respect and a better relationship.

Toyota Principle #12: Go and See for Yourself to Thoroughly Understand the Situation (Genchi Genbutsu)

“Directly observe work as activities, connections and flows” (Lean Principle #1) is stating the same philosophy as this Toyota Principle.    If leaders don’t directly observe work it will be very hard for them to thoroughly understand the situation and be able to contribute to solving the problem or improving the process effectively.

Toyota Principle #13: Make Decisions Slowly by Consensus, Thoroughly Considering All Options; Implement Decisions Rapidly

Developing a consensus can be hard to do.  An organization must gain high agreement on what options to implement and the how to implement the changes (Lean Principle #2).  To gain high agreement, an organization must have a common understanding of the situation through directly observing the work (Lean Principle #1).  This will enable people to have correct and updated information on all the options.  There must also be a common understanding on how to systematically eliminate the waste (Lean Principle #3) and solve problems (Lean Principles #4).  Without this common understanding it will be hard to get a consensus on how to close the gap between what is actually happening and what should be happening.

Toyota Principle #14: Become a Learning Organization Through Relentless Reflection (Hansei) and Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)

Reflection is a process that allows an organization to identify what the ideal outcome would have been and compare it to what the actual outcome was.  This allows the organization to learn (Lean Principle #5) from its current process.  Without relentless reflection on not only what went wrong but also what went right, it is extremely difficult to continually improve.  By reflecting and applying the learnings, the organization improves the process for the next time.  It also prevents the organization from making the same mistakes again, allowing more learning to occur the next time through the process.

Making reflection a normal part of the learning process establishes high agreement on what and how the organization can improve upon (Lean Principle #2).  Reflection is worthless if it is not used with the purpose of learning improvement.  The only way to truly improve is to reflect back to prior issues and integrate the learnings into the next processes.

Lessons from Toyota are very valuable, especially today.  An organization can learn from the lessons of Toyota over the last 50 years, but the organization must develop and travel down its own lean path.  The lean principles talked about in this article allow everyone in the organization to practice lean thinking on a daily basis.  Toyota can also serve as a good example of what can happen when an organization decides to get away from practicing the lean principles.

I hope many more companies can continue to learn and practice these lean principles.

Part 1 is posted here.

Part 2 is posted here.


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Posted on July 30, 2010, in Learning, Principles, Problem Solving, Waste and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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