From the Archives of a Common Sensei – Volume 12: The Basic Thought Behind Toyota Operations Regarding Associates


While scanning through my archives, I came across the document below that provided a fundamental principle regarding their Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM) Associates during its’ start-up (1988-1990’s). This document was created and delivered by one of my most admired Sensei’s (Kanamaru-San) in which he spells out basic thinking of process design, process flow, and the proper utilization of associates.

I would be negligent if I did not emphasize a few CRITICAL points!

  • Customer does not mean only the end user; it also means from one process to the next
  • Production activities are not only direct production activities, also include all OFFICE jobs
  • Reduction of idle time does NOT mean to terminate Associates and/or make any Associates job harder; it DOES mean to use that freed up time to either work efficiently/effectively in another area of need or work in areas to aid in the organization market growth
  • Involve Associates in process analysis and experimentation of change ideas

The document below was not just words on paper, or words delivered in a presentation. These were an expression of the fundamental belief behind building an organization which valued its’ Associates and what could be accomplished as a complete team! Of course, there were debates as process analysis took place, but they always involved those involved Associates and Management. Once agreement was reached, a standard was created to which future situations could be compared. If future variation to the standard occurred, it became readily noticed. If this occurred on the production line, the involved Associate would pull the Andon signal to stop the line so that the appropriate correction could take place. Such correction generally involved the affected process Associate and the Associate from both the feeder process and the Associate from the next process operation. If in the office area, the involved Associate would recognize any noticed deviation to standard and alert the Manager and jointly they would correct the deviation.

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