The Toyota Way

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David P. Meier



   The Toyota Way - Bangkok


In order to produce world-class, quality automobiles at competitive price levels, Toyota has developed an integrated approach to production which manages equipment, materials, and people in the most efficient manner while ensuring a healthy and safe work environment.

The Toyota Production System is built on two main principles: "Just-In-Time" production and "Jidoka." Underlying this management philosophy and the entire Toyota production process is the concept that "Good Thinking Means Good Product."


A type of visual control that displays the current state of work (i.e., abnormal conditions, work instructions, and job progress information). It is one of the main tools of Jidoka.

Genchi Genbutsu

Go see the problem. This is the belief that practical experience is valued over theoretical knowledge. You must see the problem to know the problem.


The overall leveling, in the production schedule, of the volume and variety of items produced in given time periods. Heijunka is a pre-requisite for Just-in-time delivery.


Goals (with targets) and means for achieving it to address business priorities to move the organization to a new level of performance; variable from year-to-year; could also be multi-year; and is developed by executive management.


One of the two main pillars of TPS. It refers to the ability to stop production lines, by man or machine, in the event of problems such as equipment malfunction, quality issues, or late work. Jidoka helps prevent the passing of defects, helps identify and correct problem areas using localization and isolation, and makes it possible to “build” quality at the production process.


Management driven kaizen activity where management members identify areas in need of continuous improvement and spread information through the organization to stimulate kaizen activity.


One of the two main pillars of TPS. It refers to the manufacturing and conveyance of only “what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed.” It is built upon three basic principles:

  1. The Pull System
  2. Continuous Flow Processing
  3. Takt time


A small sign that is the key control for the Just-In-Time production; it serves as:

  1. Instruction for production and conveyance
  2. Visual control tool to check for over production and to detect irregular processing speeds
  3. Tool to perform kaizen


A system of continuous improvement in which instances of Muda (waste) are eliminated one-by-one at minimal cost. This is performed by all employees rather than by specialists.


Non-value added. Muda is translated as waste. There are seven types of muda: (Overproduction, waiting, conveyance, processing, inventory, motion, and correction).


Preliminary work to involve other sections/departments in discussions to seek input, information and/or support for a proposal or change (policy, etc.) that would affect them.


Low cost, highly reliable devices, used in the jidoka system, that will stop processes in order to prevent the production of defective parts.

Standardized Work

The Toyota Production System organizes all jobs around human motion and creates an efficient production sequence without any "Muda." Work organized in such a way is called standardized work. It consists of three elements: Takt-Time, Working Sequence, and Standard In-Process Stock.


"Takt-Time" is the time which should be taken to produce a component on one vehicle. This timing mechanism is based on the monthly production schedule. Daily total operating time is figured on the basis of all machinery operating at 100% efficiency during regular working hours. The takt time allows us to produce many parts of many different types for use in vehicles on the production schedule and to supply those parts to each process on the assembly line at the proper time. This keeps production on schedule and permits flexible response to change in sales.

Takt Time = Straight Time Work Time (Seconds)

Required Number of Production based on Demand

Working Sequence

Working Sequence refers to the sequence of operations in a single process which leads a floor worker to produce quality goods efficiently and in a manner which reduces overburden and minimizes the threat of injury or illness.

Standard In-Process Stock

This is the minimum quantity of parts always on hand for processing on and between sub-processes. It allows the worker to do his job continuously in a set sequence of sub-processes, repeating the same operation over and over in the same order.


Across everywhere. (Plant related activities and/or countermeasures that are communicated plant wide and with other company affiliates.

While 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 TOYOTA WAY 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.

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