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Lessons from Japan: Day Two

by Lean Leaper
June 26, 2018

Lessons from Japan: Day Two

by Lean Leaper
June 26, 2018 | Comments (6)

LEI and its team of eager learners just wrapped up a great day at the Miyata Factory, where Toyota manufactures the Lexus RX, NX, CT200, and ES. The day began with a word from Mr. Hideshi Yokoi, followed by a walk through assembly, and ended with a TPS simulation! (The following slideshow collects postcards written by each person with a lesson that they learned today.)

Mr. Yokoi joined Toyota in 1978. His career has been nearly equally divided between the US and Japan - 16 years in the former and 17 in the latter. He has been at the Miyata Plant since 2011. Over his 8 years of overseeing production, he has led the plant two JD Power Platinum awards (2016, 2017), as well as achieved the plant’s highest productivity numbers.

But productivity has hardly been his focus over his tenure. Rather, he focuses team members and managers on quality and safety. “If we get those right, productivity will follow,” he said.

The theme of his talk was “Manufacturing Is Making People.” He emphasized that leadership’s primary role is to make problems visible. And then it’s to give team members the authority and ability to solve those problems. “Let them think. Listen to them. Let them change” were the words he chose to end his talk.

Tomorrow we will take a further deep dive into the Miyata Plant and learn the details behind how TMK develops its people through problem solving. In the meantime, feel free to follow our tour on twitter at #leijapantour.

--Matt Savas


If you are interested in learning more about Lean Learning Tours, click here.


The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
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6 Comments | Post a Comment
dan prock June 26, 2018
1 Person AGREES with this comment

Hate to be the wet blanket, but this is the same learning we had from visiting toyota or its suppliers 20-30 years ago. Will we evergo deeper than lean 101?

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Jan Drlik June 28, 2018

Lean is like chess.  It only takes a short time to memorize the rules, but it requires a lifetime to learn how to play the game well.

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Jan Drlik June 28, 2018

I was very disappointed by something I read on one of the post cards: "The TPS goal is to reduce cost."


The TPS goal is to reduce or eliminate waste, thereby improving quality.  Costs will come down as a natural result of this more fundamental process.

There are many ways to reduce costs that don't improve quality.

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Matt Savas June 29, 2018
1 Person AGREES with this reply

Hi Jan -

You’re right. The training instructors taught that the aim of TPS is to reduce cost by eliminating all waste from the manufacturing process. One of the key lessons of the simulation was how to build in quality at each process. I suspect the group member took away this lesson - it was hard not to - but captured the lesson in an abbreviated manner on the card. 

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Miguel June 30, 2018

Hi Matt, thanks for this journey's followup. 

Always good to hear feedback directy from Japan even if we have heard or read about it before.

Anyway to get more information about the simulation in which you participated?




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Matt July 01, 2018

Hi Miguel - 

We participated in the same simulation Toyota Motor Kyushu does with its new operators as part of their training. Unfortunately, I'm not able to share beyond what is in the post.... 

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