Toyota Learning Principles and the V4L Framework

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Toyota is well known for its approach to problem solving and continuous improvement. Articles by practitioners, researchers, and participants have made the tools and techniques of continuous improvement familiar to every business executive. For example, phrases such as andon, heijunka, and kanban have become part of the day-to-day vocabulary of managers. In an insightful commentary on these tools and techniques, Jeffrey Liker writes that Toyota’s success goes beyond these tools and techniques to what he calls “The Toyota Way.”

Liker presents the Toyota Way as an all-encompassing method for designing and managing processes. Every student of Toyota also knows that the Toyota Way is unique, not only in its approach to problem solving but also in perpetu-ating its way of thinking across different types of operations, organizations (including suppliers, logistics providers, and dealers), and worldwide locations.

Underlying the success of Toyota is the company’s approach to scientifically examining problems, solving them, learning from the experience, and passing on that knowledge to others.

Toyota is a global auto company with many products and markets. The company encompasses markets across the globe with different characteristics (e.g., the United States, Europe, and Japan) that warrant different supply chain configurations. In addition, differences among the Toyota, Lexus, and Scion vehicles warrant different supply chain processes. Although common processes underpin these supply chains, variations across these supply chains provide additional insights. We believe that an understanding of how all these supply chains coexist in one company provides an excellent learning opportunity for a practic-ing supply chain manager to apply the v4L framework to his or her work.

v4L Framework

Performance at Toyota is evaluated with equal weight given to both the process used to derive performance and the results achieved. This process focus aims to generate a...
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