The Toyota Way

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David P. Meier



   The Toyota Way - Bangkok



The Toyota Way Fieldbook is a companion to the international bestseller The Toyota Way. The Toyota Way Fieldbook builds on the philosophical aspects of Toyota's operating systems by detailing the concepts and providing practical examples for application that leaders need to bring Toyota's success-proven practices to life in any organization. The Toyota Way Fieldbook will help other companies learn from Toyota and develop systems that fit their unique cultures.

The book begins with a review of the principles of the Toyota Way through the 4Ps model-Philosophy, Processes, People and Partners, and Problem Solving. Readers looking to learn from Toyota's lean systems will be provided with the inside knowledge they need to

  • Define the companies purpose and develop a long-term philosophy
  • Create value streams with connected flow, standardized work, and level production
  • Build a culture to stop and fix problems
  • Develop leaders who promote and support the system
  • Find and develop exceptional people and partners
  • Learn the meaning of true root cause problem solving
  • Lead the change process and transform the total enterprise

The best book for lean implementers,

This temendous book is the best book I have read on the specifics of TPS so far, and the one closest to it's elusive spirit - it's an absolute must read for any lean implementer. Far beyond the description of tools, it's a brilliant attempt at giving a feel for what TPS is truly about. For instance, there's a lovely story of one of the authors looking at a westerm traditional automotive assembly chain. At some point, he spots a problem with a carpet in the cars being assembled. Instinctively, he looks for the andon cord, before reminding himself that, of course, there would be one. Then he points out the defect to the supervisor, who answers, that, yeah, he's right - they'll probably spot it at rework and deal with it. Should they talk to someone upstream? Not necessary, the previous process is probably aware of the problem and trying to do something about it. The author then describes his moment of total anguish at seeing a defect go through the process and not being able to do anything about it.

This, I believe is a reflection of the true TPS spirit. I know a plant manager who used to work with Toyota before chosing to come back home and take a local non-Toyota plant. The first thing he did was set up an andon board. At first, he was puzzled to see the lights never went off. Then he realized there was nothing, but absolutely nothing in the current social system of the plant that would make the operators trigger an andon signal, or the management react to it. To implement TPS, everything had to be constructed from scratch.

The Toyota Way Fieldbook is far more than a companion to The Toyota Way, which is a great management book about Toyota. The Fieldbook goes explicitly into some of the least described aspects of TPS: the development of people thorugh constant problem-solving. The Fieldbook describes both techniques to follow people development, and problem-solving processes which are, in my mind, at the heart of the TPS. I can't recommend this book enough to all readers out there who struggle in trying to implement lean without access to a sensei. This won't replace the sensei, but it's the closest thing to it.

Practical and useful "how to" companion to the Toyota Way,
Book description: what's the key message?

While Jeffrey Liker's book The Toyota Way was an examination of the 14 Principles of the Toyota Way, it was not an explicit "how to" guide at a tactical level. This follow up book is intended as the more practical guide to Becoming Lean (to borrow the title of an earlier book written by Liker). The Fieldbook is organized in the framework of Toyota's 4 P's:

  • Philosophy
  • Process
  • People and Partners
  • Problem Solving

The book starts first with "philosophy," not lean tools. It develops an important relationship between the two. The book, in its entirety, emphasizes that copying Toyota tools, regardless of how thoroughly, is not enough to become lean. Early chapters talk about defining your company's purpose and philosophy, providing many examples of Toyota's purpose and unique view of their place in society and the world. From there, the Fieldbook guides you through a reasonable progression of lean topics and methods to work with in your own company. While there is no simple linear progression through a lean transformation, the authors address the challenge well in structuring the flow of the book. Typical "early" stages of lean learning and implementation are covered first, including learning how to identify waste, establishing process stability, and developing flow. The book spends more time on organizational culture and management methods, as opposed to tools. The book remains practical and actionable, rather than theoretical.

A strong central portion of the book focuses on developing leaders, how to lead in a lean environment, and how to develop "exceptional" employees. One particular highlight are the detailed examples, including a breakdown of the roles of Group Leaders, Team Leaders, and Team Members in a lean setting, not covered in most lean books.

The book recognizes that companies are not Toyota as a starting point. Rather, they are trying to become a Toyota-like lean organization. There is a chapter on respecting suppliers and managing them as Toyota does. The last sections of the book cover Toyota problem solving and implementation strategies, including a discussion of the pros and cons of different common lean transformation or implementation approaches, including kaizen events and the development of a "Company Production System."

How does it contribute to the lean knowledge base?

This book is a unique compilation of Toyota Production System methods, concepts, and philosophies. There are many adaptable examples of Toyota tools and methods, including Standard Work Combination tables, Cross Training matrices, 5 Why's problem solving analysis, and A3 reports. There are many new case study examples in the book that will be helpful, even to an experienced lean practitioner.

The book is also unique in that it is co-authored by a former Toyota team leader, an American, as opposed to reading an older book by Toyota executive Taiichi Ohno or consultant Shigeo Shingo.

What are the highlights? What works?

The book is very readable and easy to understand. Its layout and format borrows many of the good practices of the "For Dummies" series. You might consider this to be a "Toyota Production System For Dummies" book. There are many callouts with icons indicating "Tips" and "Traps" to look out for in your own lean implementation, to help avoid common lean implementation mistakes or failure modes.

This is very helpful, as the authors realize that it can be difficult work implementing lean. They never talk down to you or make you feel bad that you might struggle with the Toyota Way in your own environment, because you are not Toyota.

Furthermore, co-author David Meier was a group leader at Toyota. Many perspectives on Toyota come from the process or industrial engineering perspective, but the perspective of front-line supervisor is of significant value and often overlooked.

What are the weaknesses? What's missing?

While this is clearly a field book in its application focus, it is less clear how it is connected to companion book, The Toyota Way. The 14 principles of that book are mentioned briefly but are not integrated into this book. The Fieldbook has value as a standalone volume, but those looking for a specific companion to The Toyota Way will be disappointed.

You might be surprised to not find much information about Kanban, a process made famous by Toyota. Although the concept of pull is covered, there is no chapter on Kanban or examples of calculations or Kanban cards. Thankfully, there are many references and other books available on this topic.

How should I read this to get the most out of it?

The book can be read straight through. For an experienced lean practitioner, it can easily be used as a reference book. Topics are well organized and tools are easy to find with a well-documented index. For example, if you want an example of an A3 Report, you will find many pages of explanation about the tool and how to use you. You will also find fully completed examples of the tool. This is extremely helpful and adds to the book's value as a practical reference.

Great addition to Toyota Way but not as good,

The Toyota Way Fieldbook is excellent and it's a great addition to the Toyota Way. It's hard to write a book as good as the Toyota Way, this book is good, but not as good as Toyota Way.

When I started reading the fieldbook, I was highly dissapointed. The first 200 pages basically just explained the basic lean tools. It's good if you do not know them, but I felt that the book didn't add anything to the existing lean literature. I expected more from Jeff Liker, especially after the excellent Toyota Way.

Part IV of the book starts around page 200 and talks about developing people. Here, for me, the book took a turn and became better the more I continued. (I also immediately ordered the new Toyota Talent book to hope to get more information on this side of Toyota). The organizational structures and training descriptions was very concrete, as I would expect in a fieldbook. Then Part V started around page 300 and it was... excellent. It's about find root causes and continuous learning. Just chapter 14 is worth the whole book. The description of the "therefore" method and it's relationship to the 5why's is very important. (this section talks about how 5why is a method for finding the root cause, but it's just as important to abstract the problem in "the true problem" so that you got more flexibility in ways of solving it).

The last part is about managing the change. The stories are all very nice and concrete. The advise is useful.

I really like this book, especially chapter 14! It gave me, again, new insights in Toyota's way of working and especially it's culture. The stories made it concrete and they were fun to read. Recommended, after you finished the Toyota Way.

The most important 'lean' book.

Simply the most important book to have on your shelf if you are serious about lean manufacturing. This book is less about theroy and more about practical advice. I find it is the book I take with me as a senior lean consultant. Dave and Jeff have done an excellent job putting these concepts and experiences into word.

Some miss the wisdom in these pages but I find it right on the money. Chapter 4 is a chapter I have asked people to read over and over. In my opinion it is most companies are and don't know it.

I recommend this book very highly. Get it, read it more than once.

Guide, menu, toolbook, cookbook, non Toyota case studies...whatever you name it. It helps!,

For those who had been deeply impressed by "The Toyota Way" and want to implement it to your business, this book is an excellent pracctical guide. There are plenty of charts, flow diagrams, tables, checklists, non Toyota examples, action plans, report forms etc etc which I find very helpful. I particularly like the "Reflect and Learn from the Process" Section (summary/key points/action items) in the end of each chapter. A book well worths its price! Highly recommended! However, please read "The Toyota Way" before this.

p.s. One value added for my review, or in fact a justification for my high preference of this book. On page 122-124, the authors discussed the six myths of standardized work. (So bad that some managers in my office hold them as axioms)

Myth 1: If we have standardized work, anyone can learn everything about the job by looking at the documents.

Myth 2: If we have standardized work, we can bring anyone off the street and train them to do the job in a few minutes.

Myth 3: We can incorporate all details of the work and standards into the standardized work sheet.

Myth 4: We will post the document so operators can look at the sheet each day to remember how to do the job.

Myth 5: Employees develop their own standardized work.

Myth 6: If we have standardized work, operators will do the job properly and will not deviate from the standard.

The Toyota Way Fieldbook,

The Toyota way, written by Jeff Liker, a coauthor of this book, was great as a look into the softer side of the Toyota philosophy and culture. This book fills in the gaps on technical support and is organized in a manner where a chapter can be assigned at a time and still be useful out of context of the rest of the book. The real life aspects and explanations brought to light by Dave Meier add hands on credence to the work. As a Lean implementor I know I will assign sections for reading to those I work with from this book since alot of people really don't want to read a full book in todays busy world and may not need all of it at once. Still, a good book to read fully if you can as it is packed with information, tips and traps.

One more Jewel,

Hats off to Dr Liker in bringing one more precious book to us.

Everyone can read this book with ease and understand Toyota principles through case studies.

Among many things I liked

  1. Flow diagrams, TIPS, TRAPS, case studies and most importantly the visuals

  2. More clarity on leveling paradox with examples

  3. Toyota technology adoption strategies

So you think your company is lean?

Think again..., read this book and I will guarantee you will look at your company's Lean implementation in a different way. The perspective given as you read the book makes one feel as though you are actually working for Toyota. The book's content, real-world examples and illustrations will present you with opportunities to ask the question "Why" to your management again and again.

This book will make you "Think" and think like Toyota would think and what better company would there be to follow? IMO, there is none and what makes it that way is Toyota's humble attitude in that they are not perfect and always strive for perfection.

Read the book, make the changes in the way you do business, become more competitive and profitable, satisfy your customers, change yourself and hopefully those around you and best of all, have fun doing it.

Practical and Fact Filled,

An excellent follow-up to The Toyota Way! The Fieldbook offers countless tips and practical applications that can be used in real-life situations! I have recommended this book to all of my clients and I would recommend it to anyone interested in progressing down the lean pathway!

Excellent Training / Front-Line Leader Resource,

I added this book to my lean collection over a year ago. Those of us that have 10+ years experience with lean, we will find this resource very basic. What the author created was a resource tool for training. I utilize this resource for introducing new leaders to the concepts of lean. In addition, this resource is especially helpful for those who have zero understanding and are somewhat resistant to embrace lean / systems thinking.

I find the author created an introduction tool for front-line leaders. Therefore, this is a must have for people at this level.

Unfortunately, I have recognized a number of gaps with this text. First, if your culture does not promote these concepts, forget it. If you are a supervisor in a ridged union shop, you will have a hard time implementing these concepts, since the thrust is aimed at non-union and high-performance driven cultures. My second issue is the overall simplistic approach granted to cultural transformation. Even in the best, most highly motivated environments, a lean transformation requires great time and patience. A change agent must understand that positive change occurs when these excellent concepts are `top down, bottom driven.'

Lastly, I would like to see more case studies. More specifically, this audience needs case studies on how to transform a culture (from mass production to lean for example) in small pieces. Leaders need more than concepts to learn. As we know and have experienced, leaders, especially front-line leaders, need a road map of how to start. I recommend small case studies that illustrate small success stories.

I still highly recommend this resource, for all levels. The author created an easy-to-read guide that motivates the reader to begin cultural transformation. I would like to see a dedicated resource on case studies for (a) union and non-union shops; (b) lean with limited resources such as organizations with few employees, start-ups; (c) lean in highly challenging, toxic work environments; and (d) lean in distribution industries.

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