The Hidden Beauty of TPS

Hidden Beauty of TPS
Much has been written about the vaunted Toyota Production System (TPS), so I enter this field with a degree of trepidation. But it seems to me that almost every company that has genuinely embraced TPS – rather than viewing it as a tick in the box – has enjoyed uncommon success, even in the most competitive markets. In my opinion, the source of their business success is not Kanbans, stores, or the cost savings due to low inventory. Those three and the other conspicuous aspects of the TPS matter, but they are not what define a successful company’s value proposition.

Instead, the source of their business success rests with these three principles:

  1. Deliver on your “contracts” with your customers. Seek diligently to understand customer needs, and design products to meet those needs. But, however well (or not quite well) you interpret a customer’s need, alwaysproduce your product inordinately well. Customers know that a supplier committed to TPS will consistently deliver.
  1. Deliver on your “contracts” with your internal customers. The exact same strategy that you use externally is repeated internally by arranging all work into simple, clear customer supplier pairs. Every customer expects to receive and every supplier intends to deliver on every contract: all day, every day. No missed deliveries, no defects, no wrong quantities. Customers matter. Contracts must be honored.
  1. Engage everyone in waste prevention and waste elimination. Customer supplier pairs that are connected as an unbroken chain to each other and, thence, to the ultimate customer are only viable if all contracts are clear and all are honored. So, the chain, the contracts and the work of each person, process and machine are designed to prevent problems and then to solve them rapidly should they occur.

This is the genius of the Toyota Production System. Customers learn this and reward companies that have embraced Toyota with their business.

But the hidden beauty of TPS is how it engages every employee in this motivating mission of meeting the needs of customers uncommonly well. TPS provides the design so that companies can rapidly and efficiently deliver on their customer needs, prevent problems, solve problems when and where they occur and improve their portion of the system such that they prevent and eliminate waste.

And then the Toyota Production System provides the way to operate thereby enabling people to experience pride of workmanship, growth through problem solving and thanks for a job well done. For everyone in Toyota, the goals are to serve their customers.

Simple stuff. Engage your people. Serve your customer. Make a lot of money. Love it!

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