Home > About Us> People> Jeffrey Liker
Jeffrey Liker

Jeffrey Liker

Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan

Dr. Jeffrey K. Liker is Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, owner of Liker Lean Advisors, LLC,  Partner in The Toyota Way Academy, and Partner in Lean Leadership Institute. Dr. Liker has authored or co-authored over 75 articles and book chapters and eleven books.

He is author of the international best-seller, The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer, McGraw-Hill, 2004 which speaks to the underlying philosophy and principles that drive Toyota’s quality and efficiency-obsessed culture. The companion (with David Meier) The Toyota Way Fieldbook, McGraw Hill, 2005 details how companies can learn from the Toyota Way principles. His book with Jim Morgan, The Toyota Product Development System, Productivity Press, 2006, is the first that details the product development side of Toyota. Additional books in The Toyota Way Series are (with David Meier), Toyota Talent: Developing exceptional people the Toyota Way (May, 2007), (with Michael Hoseus) Toyota Culture: The Heart and Soul of the Toyota Way (January, 2008), (with Gary Convis) The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership (2012), (with James Franz) The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement (2012), (with Tim Ogden) Toyota Under Fire  (2012), and (with George Trachilis) Developing Lean Leaders The Toyota Way  (2014). His articles and books have won eleven Shingo Prizes for Research Excellence and The Toyota Way also won the 2005 Institute of Industrial Engineers Book of the Year Award and 2007 Sloan Industry Studies Book of the Year.

In 2012 he was inducted into the Association of Manufacturing Excellence Hall of Fame. He is a frequent keynote speaker and consultant. Recent clients include Caterpillar, Applied Materials, Siemens, Dover Industries, Kraft-Oscar Meyer, Alcatel-Lucent, Hertz, Solar Turbine, Art Van Furniture and Henry Ford Health Systems.

Articles by Jeffrey Liker
Once Again, Here's Why JIT Matters
Jeffrey Liker argues that recent media snipes fail to understand the crucial role JIT plays in a complete #lean system in surfacing problems & pressuring companies to fix them immediately More »
Can You Assess Your Way to Lean?
Using assessments to gauge process is both a flawed approach and potential trap, argues Jeff Liker. He suggests a broader and mindful approach for reaping enduring discoveries and improvements. More »
Front-Load Your Design Process By Using Set-Based Design
Jeffrey Liker highlights the benefits of a set-based design in this in-depth reflection of his time working in product development at Toyota. More »
Form A Bold Strategy for Uncertain Times
Jeff Liker shares a competing values model to help you assess your strategy and focus your operational practices on flawless execution of this path. More »
Front-Load Your Design Process by Using Set-Based Design
Jeffrey Liker shares his experience researching lean product and process development at Toyota, unveiling the importance behind having a customer-driven concept, having one project leader, and more. More »
Achieve Your Deeper Goals Through Daily Work With Hoshin Kanri
Hoshin kanri is a living process of planning, testing ideas, adapting, and learning, says Jeff Liker, in which people work towards clear targets addressing the next big obstacle. This approach reflects scientific thinking instead of mindless implementation. More »
The Toyota Way and Toyota Kata: How Do They Fit?
"Perhaps we can view the kata as a catalyst that juices scientific thinking which is the engine that drives The Toyota Way," says Jeff Liker in this article explaining how Toyota Kata and the Toyota Way fit with each other. He also notes that Mike Rother calls them "starter kata" rather than "finishing kata.  " More »
Standardized Work is a Goal To Work Toward, Not a Tool to Implement
Standardized work can be an ugly thing in the hands of control-oriented bureaucrats and a beautiful thing when it enables creativity and continuous improvement, says Jeff Liker, adding that enabling bureaucracy takes more effort, but it is worth it. More »
Are You Deploying Lean Mechanistically--or Organically?
Toyota operates on a complete system based on organic rather than mechanistic principles, argues Jeff Liker, who delineates the advantages of this approach. More »
When the Toyota Way Meets Industry 4.0
Industry 4.  0 is not a disruptive force that makes TPS irrelevant, but rather can be an enabler that builds on TPS culture and thinking, argues Jeff Liker--a way of viewing technology that is a core principle of productive lean thinking. More »
Keep Calm and Manage Stably: Akio Toyoda’s Response to Crisis
Jeff Liker and John Shook comment on the recent remarks of Toyota President Akio Toyoda, stating that they "reaffirmed the remarkable ways of the company, leaving us with confidence that Toyota will continue to serve as an inspiration, even as the world continues to change in unpredictable ways.  " More »
What the Covid-Virus Can Teach Us About the Toyota Way
This is a time where people are coming together with a passion and common focus, says Jeff Liker. He shares lessons from Toyota and other lean practitioners to suggest ways that people and companies can take whatever opportunity they have to teach others how they can become a humane, high-performing organization. More »
Learning from Toyota Way Principles versus Copying Toyota practices
Toyota is an exceptional company, says Jeff Liker, who argues that the way of thinking is a model to learn from. But simply copying Toyota’s culture is impossible and ill advised. There are no “solutions” from Toyota, only ideas. More »
What If Elon Musk Took Manufacturing Cars Seriously?
Jeff Liker asks of Tesla: What if it took Toyota’s help seriously in learning basic manufacturing before undertaking disruptive technology change? What if Tesla built in quality and did not have to rebuild most Model 3s to get quality right? What if Tesla took manufacturing and logistics seriously and was as good at execution as it was at product ideation? More »
LPPD Under the Sea: Efficient Product Design with Subsea 2.0
In this excerpt from the new book Designing the Future, authors Jim Morgan and Jeff Liker share the case study of TechnipFMC's work on a new seafloor production system that realized tremendous gains through applying LPPD principles More »
Tesla vs. TPS: Seeking the Soul in the New Machine
While Tesla has excited customers and drawn praise for innovative design and bold thinking, author Jeff Liker believes that it faces tough challenges in its approach to ramping up production that challenge its mechanistic vision of manufacturing. More »
Starter Kata for Coaching
The latest Kata SlideShare (and embedded 8-minute video) traces an arc of practice and learning of coaching skill. Establish a baseline of fundamental skills, and then build on them to advance your coaching skill development. More »
In this 16-minute video from February's Kata Summit, Professor Jeff Liker gives a revealing personal discussion of Toyota Kata from the perspective of his long-term study of Toyota. It's an informative presentation for anyone in the Lean community. More »
TPS 2.0?
Jim Morgan and Jeffrey Liker chime in on Toyota's announcement of their TNGA program (Toyota New Global Architecture). "The impetus for TNGA is not the recall crisis," they say, "but rather Toyota’s history, with a push added by the Great Recession.  .. Toyota is constantly working on the next generation of fundamental product and process innovations and occasionally we get a snapshot.  " Read more. More »
The Kata SlideShare for January presents some thoughts (and video) as we in the Lean community mark the 25th Anniversary of the introduction of Lean as a paradigm in 'The Machine that Changed the World.  ' There have been many definitions of Lean, but the cool idea of "Humans striving to better flow value to a customer" is a mindset that perhaps underlies all of them. More »
With this month's SlideShare Mike and Jeff address a common question in the Lean community: "How do the Improvement Kata & Coaching Kata fit with our existing improvement process?"Answer: As the SlideShare illustrates, Kata is about developing the essential scientific thinking that underlies Lean practices and Lean results.  And.  .. HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO US ALL!  More »
This SlideShare looks at two common mindsets that can prevent us from learning new skills. A team or organization that wants to develop a culture of continuous improvement will do well to use some structured practice routines -- Kata -- for developing people's scientific skills, especially at the beginning. More »
This month's post is an inspiring 20-minute video that anyone involved in Lean will find beneficial. On the 10th anniversary of his still-bestselling book Jeff Liker discusses the connections between 'The Toyota Way' and 'Toyota Kata,' reflects on lessons learned and points out some pivots that are now underway in the Lean community. More »
Books by Jeffrey Liker
Designing the Future Designing the Future
Morgan and Liker go beyond broad generalizations on how to “be innovative” and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services.    More »