Enna Publishing was kind enought to send me a The Toyota Mindset, written by Yoshihito Wakamatsu, one of Taiichi Ohno’s early employees. In that book, Wakamatsu argues that Ohno practiced The Toyota Production System (TPS) through the application of 10 major tenets. This post is my attempt to summarize the first tenet.
To read my reviews of Wakamatsu’s book on Taiichi Ohno, please visit the links below.
- Taiichi Ohno on Standard Work
- Taiichi Ohno on Genchi Genbutsu
- Do Not Act Spoiled
- Learn from Previous Masters
- Wastes Hide, Disclose All Mistakes
- Truth and Understanding
- Innovation and Craftiness
- Teach Others to Think
- Intelligent Automation
- Taiichi Ohno on Leadership
Taiichi Ohno: The Backstory
Wakamatsu begins by sharing a story:
One day, Ohno stepped into the shop floor. Workers were always intimidated by him and continued to perform their jobs without making eye contact.
Ohno suddenly jumped into the production line and asked with anger, “what in the world are these?”
The line leader approached Ohno to find that he was pointing his finger at the pile of work-in-progress items in the corner. Ohno began to scold the shop floor.
“These are all defects. Why are these all hidden away? I told you so many times to place the defects where everyone can see and stop production entirely.”
“[…] Never hide defects! Bring them into the hallway so that everyone can see.”
Visual Management in the Beginning
Wakamatsu continues by sharing how “visualization” or Visual Management came to be:
Visualization has become one of the standard principles in the Toyota Production System. However it was very challenging to implement Visualization when the Toyota Production System first came into practice. This was because the successful implementation of Visualization had to remove any fear from the workers; the fear that bringing defects to the foreground placed blame directly onto the workers responsible for them.
What if it were Money?
In one instance, Taiichi Ohno asked a shop floor worker to carry a box and follow him around. Taiichi Ohno walked all throughout the shop floor conducting continuous improvement activities while the employee followed him around with a box. After some time, Taiichi Ohno turned to the employee and this discussion ensued:
Ohno finally turned to him, upon returning to the starting point, and asked, “Mr. A, Didn’t you realize that there were so many components lying on the floor?”
“Yes. I did notice some components lying on the floor,” Mr. A replied.
“If you did, why did you not pick them up?” Ohno asked again.
“You just told me to follow you around. You never told me to pick up those components,” Mr. A replied.
“Shame on you! Go around the factory again and pick them up! Ohno instructed him with anger.
After that rebuke, Mr. A went about the factory and collected the components and quickly returned back to Taiichi Ohno.
“Do you have any idea how much these components are costing us?”
“I have no idea,” he replied.
“I see. How about I tell you the cost for these items you just picked up? I want you to calculate the total cost based on that,” Ohno told Mr. A.
After some calculation,
“Were you surprised to learn how much money we are wasting?” Ohno asked Mr. A.
“Yes indeed. It opened my eyes,” Mr. A replied.
“I understand. Everyone ignores these small items because they are insignificant, but what would you do if they were money? I am sure you would pick them up before anyone else. Imagine how much money you could gather up at the end,” Ohno told Mr. A.
This story illustrates Taiichi Ohno’s belief that we must focus on the small things because they are indicative of the larger whole.
Produce Only Necessary Items
Taiichi Ohno often told managers of the shop floor:
“Materials such as steel sheets and threads do not make your stomach full.”
This was the quip he would often say to illustrate the Waste of Overproduction. He continues,
Toyota only purchases what is necessary. Even when you spend all the labor and time to produce the best steel component possible, it could easily become waste if Toyota decided not to purchase it … what is left is a block of useless steel. How would you feed your wife and children if you were the owner of the factory?
He used this story to convey the importance of removing wasteful work-in-progress items and excess inventories.
In the next post, I’ll cover Taiichi Ohno’s saying “Discover the truth beyond your understanding”.