During my time while working at Toyota (TIEM) I had the opportunity to lead the operational side of new product development, side by side with our development engineers.  This was perhaps one of those opportunities that I found to be highly rewarding.  I guess the chance to first help lead the development of the Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM) operations and then also help lead the development of new products, was an opportunity that I found very satisfying from a creative viewpoint.  Thinking back to those early 1990’s years, I guess it simply comes down to exercising my imagination while working with others to bring life (reality) to new environments and things.  Even today, some 30 years later, I would argue that the Columbus, IN facility, and products that were developed and are built there lead the Industrial Equipment (forklifts) market.

In the attached “checklist”, I have included several considerations in the form of questions that are “takeaways” from that experience gained at TIEM.  If you lead an operation that needs to create new services or new products, this checklist will likely serve you well.  The idea is to include those key considerations such as:

  • Strategic Integration
  • Competition
  • Product Planning
  • Process Design
  • Design Changes

The intent of the questions included in the checklist is to help you be sure that all design considerations are included as you develop a new service or product.  As we began our new product development efforts, we thoroughly evaluated competitors’ products, including piece by piece teardown and doing comparison evaluation against our like (similar) products/components.  As we conducted this evaluation, we also included shop floor associates to determine how they felt about the competitors’ component versus the current Toyota component.  In many cases the associates would comment as to whether a competitive component was easier to make or if it was better and why.  All these considerations were included in discussions between the new product design engineers and the associates.

After I left Toyota, I later had the opportunity to help lead an automotive client team through a very similar evaluation, with the intent to take cost out of the product without decreasing (and perhaps improve) the quality.

We have included this Strategic and New Product Development and Integration Checklist for your consideration, not necessarily as an only solution, but as an idea to help you structure your approach if appropriate for your situation.

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In continuation of these blog postings (From the Archives of a Common Sensei), volume 25 discusses how we approached Problem Solving during those early days (early 1990’s) while developing Toyota Industrial Equipment. The documents included here are pre-computerization and clearly demonstrate we didn’t need everything computerized – especially problem solving!  The attached documents are in their rough condition but, are actual examples of a systematic method used for problem resolution, particularly in the following areas:

On the document entitled Procedure for Problem Solving, we have provided the procedural flow guideline for problem solving, especially for Managers and other Leaders (of course in conjunction with all those affected).  On the slide marked Problem Solving Activity, we provide a look at the process used to evaluate and resolve problems and advance opportunities.

Additional documents included provide examples of the Kaizen Activity Report (before and after changes), the Kaizen Report Format, The Bi-Weekly Report of Activity, and the Implementation Schedule for Policy Management.  The Implementation Schedule for Policy Management is used to track the various tasks against established policies of Cost, Quality, Delivery, Safety, and Morale. Additionally, it keeps track of the method, target dates, person/in charge, and lays it out in a schedule for tracking simplification.

The documents in this volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei we feel it is essential to stress that although the documents included here are not the prettiest, they are valued examples that can show you the basics of value-added problem solving (resolution).  Standardized use of these documents (or similar) will aid in the development of a true problem solving (love those opportunities) culture.  As your organization matures, it will become stronger because of standardized problem solving as described here.

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