Learning to Lead at Toyota

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I. Executive Summary
Toyota is one of the world’s largest car manufacturers which have a better approach on developing their product and management’s quality, reliability, productivity, cost reduction, sales and market share growth, and market capitalization. It is one thing to realize that the Toyota Production System (TPS) is a system of nested experiments which operations are constantly improved also known as Kaizen. It is another from TPS to have an organization in which employees and managers at all levels in all functions are able to live those principles and teach others to apply them. Being in a big company like Toyota is a long process to go, especially on Managerial position, they must follow the long, hard way importantly on training. For this following analysis we took the experience of Bob Dallis who trained for Toyota US Plant. II. Defining the Issue

What is the effective way of developing a manager’s process improvement capabilities?
The pseudonymous Bob Dallis, a talented young American was hired for an upper-level position at one of Toyota’s US plants. Dallis, who had taken two (2) Master’s Degree in Engineering and previously worked for various large plants of Toyota’s North American competitors, thought that he already knew the necessary knowledge on managing the company. Before formally working at the said plant, however, he had undergone a tremendous training under Mike Takahashi, a senior manager of the Toyota Supplier Support Center (TSSC) for more than three (3) months.

One of Toyota’s principles is to transform individuals into great managers, let alone generating superb cars. The study emphasizes how the company newbie had learned and realized the real essence of being a manager, hence, learning it the long, hard way. This aspect is relevant, but does the ‘Toyota way’ of training the managers complement the needed traits for them to achieve operational excellence? III. Analysis of the Case Data

All managers at Toyota believe in the supremacy of observation. For the company, “there is no substitute for direct observation”. Before any employee can take part in improving the process, the general expectation is that he should be well aware of the existing products and the processes entailing these. For the first six weeks, Dallis only observed how production was done at Toyota. He was not left alone, though. On Mondays and Fridays, he had meetings with Takahashi where they review the gaps between the expected outcomes and what actually occurred. By the sixth week, Dallis and the group he worked with recommended 25 changes in individual tasks and 75 in redistribution of work. His second six weeks of training bracketed the improving of the machine productivity. After 12 weeks of training, Dallis in observational method of changed leadership was still 5% below the target of 95% operational availability. He was then taken to Japan to observe the change management in the parent country of the company. Within 3 days at Kamigo plant, he was able to recommend 50 changes and implement 35 with the help of his team at the plant. The way Dallis was trained, same way every leader in the organization was trained to be the enablers of the company. There are certain aspects which have to be considered before putting a capable person on a managerial position wherein the Human Resources Management of Toyota is responsible. The HR Management considers some components that should be consistent with the company’s structure and strategy. These are the following: (1) recruitment; (2) training and development; (3) performance appraisal and feedback; (4) pay and benefits and; (5) labor relations. * Recruitment ― Is Bob Dallis qualified for the upper-level position at one of Toyota’s US plants? Yes, he is. Even before he was hired for the said position, he had already benchmarked the ideas of TPS on improving his previous employer’s company. This is not to mention his achievements and...
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