Strategos Lean Briefing

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August 25, 2003             

Decoding The DNA of the Toyota Production System

Steven Spear and H. Kent Bowen contend that the usual lists of techniques and methods for Lean Manufacturing (Workcells, Teams, SPC, etc.) are just superficial manifestations of the Toyota Production System. They maintain that the essence of the system lies in a few fundamental beliefs and rules of behavior. This is part of Toyota's Corporate Culture. Underlying all is an attitude that:

ALL work processes must be controlled, scientific experiments, constantly modified and improved by the people who do the work.

From this, five unspoken and unwritten rules evolved with associated hypotheses and appropriate responses (if the hypotheses prove invalid). These rules cover:

  • How People Work

  • How Processes Connect

  • The Physical Arrangement

  • How To Improve

  • Problem Alarms

Corporate Culture is a vague, paradoxical and messy thing. It excites little interest among we engineers and technicians who usually manage and work in manufacturing. Yet, it is essential for us to understand it as best we can. An appropriate Corporate Culture is essential for Lean Manufacturing success..

Our latest web page summarizes Spear and Bowen's original paper from the Harvard Business Review. It also links to where you can still purchase a reprint of this classic 1984 article.

Our next issue introduces the, discipline of Group Technology and its application to workcell design. See you then.

Quarterman Lee

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Guide to Cycle Counting

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