Integrating Continuous Improvement and Standardization - "The Toyota Way"

A

awilliam0815

#1
Hello,

I am a recent member to this forum and am anxious to participate in a discussion regarding lean manufacturing, and particularly exploring the concepts behind "The Toyota Way" I am a 20+ year veteran of the automotive industry, and seriously believe that part of the reason why the Japanese automotive companies have been so successful is that they have been able to find ways to integrate the two disciplines of innovation/continuous improvement AND standardization. This idea is discussed in depth in Jeffrey Liker's book "The Toyota Way" (see chapter 12, page 142, and chapter 20, p. 263). I would like to find out if anyone out there has practical experience integrating these two disciplines, and if so, which sort of methods work, and which ones do not work. Personally, I have found this to be a very difficult discipline to practice in reality, since it would seem that in order to continuously improve, you must break current standards to come up with different and better ways to do a task. The ultimate question is .. . how do you enforce standards in a engineering or administration department, while at the same time, give a group or a department the freedom to engage the "Deming Cycle" to continually improve a process? And then once a better way is perceived to be found, who decides that it is worthy enough to become a new standard which is enforced throughout the entire organization? The theory sounds good, but I am just wondering how all of this actually works in reality. I am looking forward to your comments! - Al
 
Elsmar Forum Sponsor
#2
Good subject.

awilliam0815 said:
it would seem that in order to continuously improve, you must break current standards to come up with different and better ways to do a task.
As a matter of fact I don't see why one should exclude the other? Surely we can have standardized ways to work with improvement. That said, I have to agree that many changes (and not all of them to the better) happen as a result of working outside set standards. The real problem occurs when new unofficial ways are adopted while the standard remain unchanged.

Change is inevitable. What is needed is a standardized way to introduce improved ways.

/Claes
 
D

ddunn

#3
I must agree with Claes.
I will go one step further. I don't believe you can have continuous improvement without adhering to a standard. In the Deming Cycle of PDCA the Plan is the standard, Do is following the standard, Check is an examination of the results of following the standard and Act is improvements to the standard resulting form the Check.
 

shallowmike

Involved - Posts
#4
Continuous improvement

Hi Guys,

Just thought would join this thread, we as a company implement improvements and as we are moving towards TS we would now like to develop a more formal way, of initiating continuous improvement. Is there a form that is around that basically identifies the area or process that will be the subject of an improvement and kick starts the whole process and monitors through to completion. Hope this makes sense.

Shallowmike
 
W

wmarhel

#5
Culture

The reason Toyota is the way it is has to do with the culture of the company. It is the unwavering belief that there is a better way, and one of the employees knows what that better way looks like. The "Toyota Way" sums it up very neatly when it mentions that one of the the biggest issue it faces is that "the lines are not stopped often enough".

A lot of people would rather run to some toolbox and hope to find the holy grail that will solve their problem. The methods are what they are, and are pretty simplistic in their application. Takt time, TPM, single-piece flow, 5S are just methods, it comes down to the application and the commitment of everyone in the company in how they are implemented. Tour Toyota's plant in Kentucky and they will essentially tell you that it doesn't matter what you see or think you see, you won't have the intestinal fortitude to make the necessary committment in order to recreate a similar environment. To my knowledge, Toyota has never prevented anyone from touring their facilities.

Standardization feeds improvement in that there is a state of consistency which makes it much easier to improve upon. Those new improvements become the standard only long enough for somebody to come up with an even better way. It is a very dynamic system, and one in which the status quo is viewed with disdain.

Wayne
 

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
#6
awilliam0815 said:
...part of the reason why the Japanese automotive companies have been so successful is that they have been able to find ways to integrate the two disciplines of innovation/continuous improvement AND standardization. ... I would like to find out if anyone out there has practical experience integrating these two disciplines, and if so, which sort of methods work, and which ones do not work. Personally, I have found this to be a very difficult discipline to practice in reality, since it would seem that in order to continuously improve, you must break current standards to come up with different and better ways to do a task. - Al

Standardization is part of continual improvement, because it reduces unnecessary variation.

Improvement doesn't need to "break" standards. It seeks to improve methods.

It seeks weaknesses inherent in current methods: root causes, constraints, weak skills, poor communication, wasted motion, excess costs, bottlenecks, etc. When these are identified, they often can be eliminated or reduced, which produces improvement.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#7
wmarhel said:
The reason Toyota is the way it is has to do with the culture of the company.
But, but, but-uuut-uut-ut-t - What about ISO / TS 16949? Isn't ISO / TS 16949 supposed to make everything 'better'??? (Excuse my sarcasm, and I assure you it is NOT aimed at the poster...)

Comments, folks? How does 'Toyota's Way compare with TS 16949 - Or, Does it???
 
D

David Hartman

#8
I too do not see a separation between establishing a standard and continuously improving upon it. Running any process - from the overall system level down to the simplest process step - requires several basic steps: developing/defining the process, implementing the process, documenting the process, defining process metrics and goals, measuring the process to ensure stabilization, then defining improvement goals (we should NEVER be statisfied with the status quo), defining steps towards moving the process towards the improvement goals, implementing the "improved" process, et cetera.

This should be the standard by which every employee is trained to operate ("Improve constantly and forever" - Number 5 of Dr. Deming's 14 Points).
 

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
#9
Toyota gets it

The reason Toyota is the way it is ... is because the Toyota management GETS IT! And, GM, Ford and DCX, though they have many bright executives, they DON't get it! The stupid practices they incentivize, and the idiots they tolerate in middle management are inexcusable. Sure, they have union legacy costs, but there are billions to be saved in execution, and they don't get it.

Toyota announced they have passed the one billion mark in employee improvement suggestions implemented. One Billion Served. And, as the Toyota chairman put it succintly, "any company which implements one billion improvements, must improve..." Duh!

GM, Ford, DCX, it's not the Suppliers' fault. Look in the mirror and clean house.
 
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