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

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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.”

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