Toyota’s Master Craftsmen: Takumi

Japanese Master Brush Maker Yoshiyuki Hata
Japanese master brush maker Yoshiyuki Hata

You may have heard of Takumi at Toyota. Takumi in general are highly skilled artisans that excel in their craft. Despite Toyota mass-producing cars using lots of machines, they also employ hundreds of Takumi. This blog post takes a deeper look at what a Takumi is, and why they are so important for Toyota and other Japanese companies.

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What Is Ikigai?

Recently, the Japanese word ikigai has been popping up as a way to find happiness. While not quite a manufacturing theme, it is related to industry and to Japanese culture, and hence I decided to write a blog post about it. It is a lot of hubbub around a few good (but not new) ideas, wrapped in a out-of-context Japanese word.

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What Is True North in Lean?

True NorthLean manufacturing often talks about true north. This is the direction in which your operations should move to become better. Sometimes that may be a bit fuzzy, so let’s have a look at what true north could include.

I am fully aware that reaching true north in all aspects is unrealistic. If you actually reached true north, there would be nothing left to improve… which goes against my beliefs in manufacturing. You can always get better! Hence, achieving the list below is not realistic. But hey, as I am writing this, it is almost Christmas, and it is okay to make a wish! I hope that this unrealistic list helps you to get closer to true north in at least some aspects.

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How to Do a Lean Transformation – The Toyota Approach

Companies continuously need to improve to survive. Lean can help them with this continuous improvement, so many companies aspire to become lean. The question is, how do you do that? How do you do a lean transformation, or more generally a change management? In this post I would like to talk about what is needed for a company to start their journey to lean. Be warned, it is not easy, and it does require a lot of support from the very top.

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Hoshin Kanri and the Kanri Noryoku Program: Rejuvenating Toyota

In my previous posts I explained how Hoshin Kanri works. This post looks at how Toyota embeds Hoshin Kanri as part of their overall management structure. Toyota started this in 1979 when director Masao Nemoto started the Kanri Noryoku Program (管理能力プログラム), usually shortened to KanPro.

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How Cheap Can You Make it?

I was on a quest, a quest to find the cheapest ballpoint pen possible. And what I found was amazing. Modern manufacturing has achieved stunning productivity, where even a complex product like a ballpoint pen can be produced at costs that were unbelievable only a few decades ago. While everybody can make a pen, the goal in manufacturing is always to make it cheaper! For the same functionality, the customer will almost always go for the cheaper products. Let me show you the results of my quest.

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Example of Problem Solving – Japanese Men’s Relay Team Rio 2016

Good problem solving can seriously help you with the performance in your plant. John Shook recently pointed out another nice example to me: the Japanese Men’s 4x100m relay team during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They were the underdogs, with none of their team having ever run 100m in under 10 seconds. Yet they stunningly won the silver medal! They achieved this through good problem solving. Let me show you the details:

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