Is TPS Evolving?

Fast job!I read an article recently that piques my interest.

In a March 15th article entitled “What after lean?”  Abe Eshkenazi Chief Operating Officer of APICS discussed what could be some important changes soon at Toyota. These changes could expand Toyota’s thinking beyond the TPS (Toyota Production System) and into other areas.

According to the article…

“The Toyota Motor Corporation is making some big changes, especially across its North and South American affiliate companies. Among these changes, the company announced a new head of North American operations, a new board chair, and a new board member.”

Also mentioned in article was an issue Toyota faced that may have contributed to the upcoming changes.

“These changes come at a time when Toyota still is recovering from a series of recalls that began in 2009 and were related to an acceleration problem. According to the Los Angeles Times, the company paid $1.1 billion in class-action settlements and $29 million to 29 US states because of the incidents.”

I have always argued that companies that blindly follow Toyota like a religion will always be behind them.  Only time will tell exactly what changes will be made at Toyota but it’s obvious they are a truly evolving organization.

There was speculation in the article that movement might be towards S&OP (Sales and Operation Planning). This would be great; I believe Toyota would do it correctly rather than the lip service of many other organizations. Toyota appears to be the Rand McNally of operational practices so the clones will just wait for the map to be published.

Any modification or shift from the Toyota production system would be quite impressive. While other companies steadfastly cling to their interpretation of TPS, the real Toyota is in a state of perpetual forward evolution. Thus again my premise that Toyota clones will never lead the marketplace if their model is simply to follow Toyota.

While I’m a big fan and have utmost respect for Toyota, I’m anxious to see who will be the Steve Jobs of manufacturing. A lean soldier who will not be intimidated an actually try to surpass the TPS not just emulate, replicate or clone.

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One Response to Is TPS Evolving?

  1. Though I have seen lots of small and medium sized businesses move beyond trying to copy or emulate certain leaders in any field, I still see a lot of it in those medium to large businesses doing nothing but that. I feel that in large part it shows a lack of true leadership in even doing it.

    When an organization just tries to copy someone else’s system or produce to someone else’s standard (benchmark) they are fooling themselves into thinking that will be good enough. There are two realities they like to forget. One is they are not the entity they are trying to copy or benchmark, so trying to do it exactly like they did will never work. Two is that if all you do is meeting their current state, you will still be behind, and after all do you think they will stay, stagnate for you.

    Yes we can all learn from what Toyota does, and for that matter what a lot of others are doing, but we have to have the sense to know how and if we should apply it in our organization. If we learn and adapt things to our own organization instead of trying to copy someone else blindly, you give yourself the chance to actually outperform the organization you learned from, instead of defining yourself as a perpetual also ran.

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