A perversion of the Toyota method | Pierre Deschamps | La Presse

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

The article is in French, from Quebec. Following is a full translation:

“A recent story in La Presse reports on the implementation of the famous Toyota method in home care by the Montreal firm Proaction. The article argues that the implementation is driving nurses, social workers and occupational therapists to nervous breakdowns.

In fact, what is described has nothing to do with the Toyota method, but is a practice labeled “Lean,” disconnected from one of the fundamental values of the Toyota approach.

Toyota’s business philosophy is based on two fundamental principles: respect and continuous improvement. At Toyota, the continuous improvement process is based on the respect that the company provides to its customers, suppliers and employees. Continuous improvement, yes, but never at the expense of respect for people.

In recent years, several consulting firms who see the Toyota approach as a business opportunity have appropriated some of its processes, and argued that organizations adopting them would rapidly increase their performance and efficiency.

What these companies have forgotten is that the Toyota method is successful when it is part of a strong corporate culture and in businesses with a healthy work environment. It is not successful in organizations where there is a significant psychological distress and is mental suffering high among employees, as appears to be the case with several employees of the health system.

In addition, for the Toyota approach to be successful within an organization, those who want to use it have an excellent knowledge of the culture and be able to develop a profile of the organization in terms of governance, leadership, ethics, practices, traditions, etc..

In a book called The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership, the authors issue a serious warning about external consultants who claim to be experts in the Toyota or Lean approach.

The traditional role of external consultants is to manage a project and produce a plan of action. Actually, the consultants do the thinking for their clients. They claim to have expertise in Lean methods and guarantee that they say will make the client’s organization more efficient by eliminating all unnecessary tasks and standardizing work.

However, in reality, knowledge of the new methods remains with the consultants and they leave at the end of their engagement is very fragile.

The authors insist that the changes we want to make within an organization to improve performance must be under the direction of a person called sensei or master, who will act as a guide to employees .

In this case, obviously, the Lean consultants — who manage to bring social workers and occupational therapists on the verge of a nervous breakdown, exhaust them, and create a climate of fear — operate outside the philosophy of the Toyota approach.

In fact, they are the opposite of all that is at the heart of this philosophy. The Minister of Health and Social Services is quite right to say that what is at the heart of Lean and, more precisely, the Toyota Way is involving and listening to the service staff in a climate of respect for the values of the organization and all the people, staff and patients.
Want to locate in an area like health care techniques without the underlying philosophy is not only doomed to failure, but can be detrimental to the quality of care.”

See on www.lapresse.ca

11 comments on “A perversion of the Toyota method | Pierre Deschamps | La Presse

  1. @ Mr. Baudin – Not directly related to the Topic, but I would be interested to know your opinion on “World Class Manufacturing” – WCM System and how it is practiced.

    In the last few years I took my specialization with TPS. Now I work in a firm in Germany, which tries to follow WCM. After some months of exposure, this system has gained a bad impression in my mind. It just has no “Culture/Philosophy” in my perspective and as discussed in this article, the importance to “People” is totally Missing. The stress is on the “Tools”

    If am right, WCM, the concept was formed by Dr. Hajima Yamashina.

    I would be glad to listen to your take on it

    • I think the term World-Class Manufacturing was originally the title of a book by Richard Schonberger from the 1980s. It was used for a while as an alternative to Toyota Production System or Just-In-Time, until the term Lean took over in the 1990s.
      It later regained some visibility as Fiat’s version of Lean, since 2004, and its implementation was guided by Hajime Yamashina, Professor Emeritus of Engineering from Kyoto University.
      I have not met him nor seen first-hand the results of his work, but, perhaps, other readers who have could chime in.

  2. Michel,

    I am working in a major Canadian home health care delivery organization implementing lean. I do not know about the Proaction case. But, What I do know is that there is one particular major consulting firm, that bought a small firm that was known to implement lean. They are in with the Canadian Ministry of Health and heavily promoting lean. I have observed, first hand, some of their presentations and work. It is NOT GOOD! It is simplistic problem solving, dominated by the consultants, and they fail to understand how the larger system is designed and the cause of failures.

    With my client, we have recently completely redesigned the flow of work, from the request for service to completion. We have built nursing and home support “primary care teams” enabled them with technology and empowered them to make decisions. The employees, the clients, the funders and the company are all delighted with the results.

    Larry Miller

  3. There is much to be admired in the world Class approach of Hajime Yamashina but also much to be avoided. The basic tool kit is good practice that should be obvious to all, but the profs work fails due to the fact that he is a research scientist rather than a production scientist. For any project to move ahead in the real world decisions have to be made and one of the first decisions that most companies make is to lie about their progress and understanding. I have met Hajime Yamashina and seen first hand the results of his work.

      • A research scientist is obsessive by nature about every detail; this is of course just how it should be: but this level of complete analysis leads to many false trails, such as each and every component of each and every machine or process must be understood and evaluated. To use this approach leads to a need to understand the construction of the building that the process will take place in down to the sand / cement mix in the material that makes up the concrete floor. A production scientist will take the concrete that is the floor as a given (subject to enquiry of a construction expert as to the suitability of the floor), the machine that is bought will perform as per contract etc. Research is a fantastic tool but like any other obsessive disorder the original value can easily be lost when the limits of need are not recognized.

  4. As for what I said about companies lie about their progress and understanding there are many that suggest that they follow the Profs ideas when the reality is that the compliance figures are massaged and data manufactured in order to win the approval of the audit, then it’s just back to normal for the next six months (audits are usually at six month intervals).

  5. While it has been nearly a year since the last reply to this stream, if anyone is still interested, I agree with James. I was WPO leader and on the International WPO leadership team at a major truck manufacturer which was actively being consulted by Dr. Yamashina on his WCM system.

    There is much to be learned from Dr. Yamishina. His purist views of value and non-value added activities push the practitioner to ferret out waste. Dr. Yamashina’s views are sound, and will make you better if you follow him, but having said that, my experiences was that most companies associated with Dr. Yamishina were more focused on “checking the boxes” and not on achieving excellence. It is possible that there are exceptions however, I hear good things from Royal Mail and Chrysler.

  6. Just to add to this old thread I have worked for one of these company audits conducted by Prof. Yamashina and know first hand that the company’s main focus is to win Yamashina’s approval and get a pass status in the audit than actually seeing dollar savings on the floor. Some of the data I was seeing was massaged as mentioned by somebody above and we even stopped production on the floor for the two days Yamashina and team was visiting. That I believe beats the whole purpose of continuous improvement. I agree too with the above statements that Yamashina is a purist whereas most company executives implementing lean are more like illusionists trying to show you something that isn’t actually there(pun intended). And I know for a fact that attrition rates are highest during these audits as there is a pressure cooker kind of a situation during them.

  7. I have met professor Y several time and I am amazed how he has influenced me in wanting to learn more. I have been assessed by him several times and got his razor sharp comments several times. They hurt, but without them I am very clear I would not have started to think differently.
    Many people in the company I work in have similar experience where some take his comments completely differently. Some think he is rude and put the focus on this instead of listening to what the professor actually is telling them, “you have a lot to learn”.
    I believe what already has been mentioned, that focusing on professors approval just for the sake of it, will not teach you anything. But, if you have understood why, made progress with good result, you will get the professors approval and you should be proud of it.
    Focusing on the score in the assessment is a big problem according to me. Many plant managers put a personal objective for management team to get score in the assessment more than focusing on the companies KPI:s. The KPI:s evolution should show that you use WCM efficiently. If you apply WCM and focus on score without getting real results in your KPI:s, you spend your money very bad!

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