Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)

Publication te: January 30, 2006

This is an enhanced edition of HBR article 99509, originally published in September 1999. HBR OnPoint articles include the full-text HBR article plus a summary of key s and company examples to help you quickly absorb and apply the concepts.The Toyota Production System is a paradox. On the one hand, every activity, connection, and production flow in a Toyota factory is rigidly scripted. Yet at the same time, Toyota’s operations are enormously flexible and responsive to customer demand. How can that be? After an extensive four-year study of the system in more than 40 , the authors came to understand that at Toyota it’s the very rigidity of the operations that makes the flexibility possible. That’s because the company’s operations can be seen as a continuous series of controlled experiments. Whenever Toyota defines a specification, it is establishing a hypothesis that is then tested through action. This approach–the scientific method–is not imposed on workers, it’s ingrained in them. And it stimulates them to eng in the kind of experimentation that is widely recognized as the cornerstone of a learning organization. The Toyota Production System grew out of the workings of the company over 50 years, and it has never actually been written down. Mng the implicit explicit, the authors lay out four principles that show how Toyota sets up all its operations as experiments and es the scientific method to its workers. The first rule governs the way workers do their work. The second, the way they interact with one another. The third governs how production lines are constructed. And the last, how people learn to improve. Every activity, connection, and production path deed according to these rules must have built-in tests that al problems immediately. And it is the continual response to those problems that makes this seemingly rigid system so flexible and aptive to changing circumstances.

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Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)


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