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Highlights from Toyota

Talent: Developing
People the Toyota Way

Copyright 2009 Lean

Associates, Inc.
Two Pillars of The Toyota Way
“The Toyota Way
2001 is an ideal,
a standard and a
guiding beacon
for the people of
the global Toyota
It expresses the
beliefs and
values shared by
all of us.”

Fujio Cho
Showing Respect for the Individual

• Growing and developing people

• High expectation from everyone
• Considered disrespectful to take
away from people the privilege of
solving their own problems (no
• Thinking is a process!
• If there is a process it can be learned
• Everything is a process!
What Talent Do You Really Need?

• Is it enough for people to only have

skills for the job?
• What about thinking ability?
• What about leadership?
• What about teaching ability (to pass
on learning)?
-As the workplace becomes more
technologically advanced the need
becomes greater!
There is no Short Cut to Talent Development

• Talent is developed through effort

and hard work
• Learning occurs best in small
increments spread over time
• Many non-job specific skills to learn
– Leadership
– Problem Solving
– Developing others
Common Learning Misconceptions
• Our work is unique (not like Toyota)
– Your work is unique, but more similar
than you think
• What we do is more art than
– Even art has structure and rules
• The work we do is never the same
(like an assembly line)
– Do you have to learn the job every
time you do it?
Toyota’s Thinking About People
• Only people can understand the
desires of the customer
• Only people can solve problems
• People should be the master of the
• Machines should be used to relieve
human burden or undesirable
• Give machines “human like” qualities
(sensing, judging, decision making)
Challenge of Developing People

• After you “know” something you

“forget” what you know
• Procedural memory (knowing how) is
unconscious memory (not actively
thinking about the “how”)
• Difficult to teach others if you don’t
“know how” (unconscious memory)
How Do You Do It?

• You have to stop and ask yourself

(and others) questions
-What am I paying attention to (that I do
not realize)?
-What matters (that I do not notice)?
-Why do I do it a certain way (that I just
do automatically)?
• This is the essence of the Job
Instruction Method
• Breakdown the “job”
My Beliefs About Learning
• Most things that we learn start as
– Basic understanding or skills that are the
foundation for applied learning
• Unless there are some special skills or
abilities that are inherent to the individual any
task that can be learned by one can be
learned by all
– This does not mean that everyone will have
exactly the same capability
– The goal is not to be exactly alike, the goal is to
be within the desired standard (level) of
Learning Skills at Toyota
• First learn fundamental techniques
with simulated processes
• Learn to put series of fundamental
steps together
• Learn other important things about
task (knowledge, judgement, etc.)
• If something is done a certain way
there is a reason
What is the Learning Process?
• Typical “education”- memorize, follow
rules, follow steps
• Where do we learn critical thinking?
• How do we teach things with
– Thinking
– Decision making
– Judgement
– Leadership (born or learned)?
Toyota Learning Process?
• Experiential (Learn by Doing)
– Everyone’s experience is different
– How do you know what you are
– How do you know what you are
supposed to be learning?
– Is there a “correct answer”?
Learning Cycle- Beginner
• Follow the rules
• Follow the form (templates)
• Structure (Standardized Work)
• Rigid
• Rote (memorize the process)
• Start with simple challenges
• Repetition/ Drills
• Fundamental skills
• Coaching received is more prescriptive (Do
this/Do that)
• Active thinking about what you are doing
Learning Cycle- Competency

• Moderate interpretation of rules

• Some flexibility of form
• Issues tackled are more challenging
• Development of ancillary skills
• Coaching received is more thought provoking
(intended to make you think)
• Begin teaching others to follow the process
• Some Experimentation/Exploration
• Thought process more automatic (unconscious)
• More automatic response (you “know” what to
do- call it “instinct” or “habit”)
Learning Cycle- Mastery
• Freedom to interpret the “rules”
• No form (but follow the format)
• Thinking is responsive- not active “thinking”
– You forgot what you know and how you know it!
– Don’t remember “knowledge”
• Deepening of skills by exposure to various
• Coaching is thought provoking and helps
avoid mental “blind spots” or biases
• Teach others to move beyond the “rules”

• Achieved in 10,000 hours+

Knowledge Learning at Toyota
• First learn fundamental methods,
and concepts with typical
classroom lessons
• Real knowledge comes through
practical experience (experiential
• One challenge is that each
person’s experience is different
• Each person’s ability to expand on
fundamentals is different
Everything is a Process
• At Toyota the process used to arrive
at an outcome is more important than
the outcome itself
– Whether you fall short, hit, or exceed your
target does not matter if you do not know how
you arrived where you did!
– Thinking is a process
– Creating is a process
– Judgement is a process
– EVERYTHING is a process!
Learning Occurs Best In These Conditions

• Just beyond the student’s level of

– Struggle and confusion are expected and
necessary for learning
– If there is no struggle you are just doing what
you are already capable of- no learning is
• With short increments of learning followed
by purposeful practice and with coaching
– Ideally feedback should be immediate and
constant (until self-feedback is learned)
Learning Occurs Best In These Conditions

• Repetition- more repetition with

feedback and coaching
– Repetition can shorten the learning
• Self reflection- observe the outcomes
of your practice and adjust
– Feedback from both internal (self) and
external sources (others)

Free Thinking vs Guided Thinking

• Free Thinking
–Anything goes
• Guided Thinking
–Based on shared and common
philosophies, concepts, values
Toyota Teaches What, Not HOW

• What to think but not how to apply

• What are the philosophies, concepts
and values?
-What do they mean? (mutual
-What does it look like? (go and see)
-What does it feel like? (spirit and mind)
• Each person has to determine the
best HOW for the situation
Thinking Guided by Common Values
Purpose, Values, Philosophies (Beliefs)
The things we are taught and believe

Principles and Concepts (Ideas and Way of Thinking)

Thinking that orients our beliefs

Tactical Things (HOW to apply Thinking)

The doing part (the solutions)

• In order to improve it is necessary to
solve problems
• If problems are to be solved they
must not be hidden
• If they are not hidden they must be
seen (recognizable by everyone)
• Make them visible
• Use visual control methods to
recognize when a problem exists
• There is always some THINKING
• Things are overlapped and
• A standard is necessary as a basis
for a problem to exist
• EVERY problem or condition does
not literally need to be recognized!
• Use pareto principle to focus on
most crucial items
Toyota Learning Model
Repeat, no
advance in Repeat, thinking Grow / Deepen Thinking
thinking ability ability advanced Deepen
(Plan) Self-
Learn Do Think Teach

Leverage +
Coaching Process Sensei tests learning All
From Improvement here by asking questions:
Sensei (most think this • What were challenges? Are Capability
Is goal) • How overcome? (more results)
• What other options?
• Why did it this way?
• What would you change?
Sensei goal:
Develop leaders who deeply
understand the philosophy +
Short-term Spread the concepts


Short-Term Process Improvement Simultaneous Objectives

Copyright 2008 Lean Associates,
at all times 26
859-552-5326 People Development
What Were They Thinking?
• How is it possible to determine what
someone else is thinking?
– You can ASSUME based on outcome
• Or you can ask probing questions
– What led you to that conclusion?
– How did you decide that (what was it
based on)?
– What were the choices you made?
– Why did you make those decisions
versus others?
Continuous Improvement

“Every day, little up”

“Some days, big up”

“Until you take the first step, it will not be

possible to see the next step”
Questions / Comments
• Contact Information:
• David Meier
+1 859-552-5326

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