Toyota Talent: Developing Your People the Toyota Way Hardcover – May 14 2007
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From the Back Cover
Toyota's Secrets to Building an Exceptional Workforce
Leading Toyota authorities Jeffrey Liker and David Meier give you the keys to growing top performers from within through a detailed process of preparation, training, and follow-up. Drawing upon Liker's detailed study of Toyota's manufacturing, technical, and service organizations across the globe, and Meier's deep experience gained from working with some of Toyota's best sensei, the authors bring the company's proven practices to life through insight and exercises, enabling you to
- Define your organizational needs and objectives
- Create development plans for all employees
- Grow your top talent from within
- Analyze routine work and ancillary tasks
- Break down a job for effective training
- Break the cycle of poor training and results to create a cycle of continuous learning and improvement
About the Author
Jeffrey K. Liker, Ph.D., author of the bestselling The Toyota Way, is Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan and coowner of lean consulting firm Optiprise, Inc. His Shingo-Prize winning work has appeared in The Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and other leading publications.
David P. Meier is coauthor (with Liker) of The Toyota Way Fieldbook, and is President of Lean Associates, Inc., a consulting company dedicated to supporting other organizations in their efforts to learn from the Toyota Way. David was a group leader for Toyota Motor Manufacturing for ten years.
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* The Toyota Way, written by Dr. Jeffrey Liker
* The Toyota Way Fieldbook, by Liker and David Meier
* Toyota Talent, Liker and Meier
They are a trilogy of books, but each is very different and has its own unique place in the lean literature. These books are unlike a series of novels, such as the Harry Potter series (I presume, not having read them), where you necessarily have to read all of them.
The Toyota Way is an outstanding overview of the Toyota methodology, philosophy, and management system. The book does an excellent job of describing how Toyota is, in a high-level manner that can be applied across industries, including the gap between manufacturing and healthcare. The Toyota Way is one of the very first books I would recommend to any executive or manager to get a sense of the overall Toyota system (helping them avoid the urge to implement selected lean tools without understanding the entire system.
The Toyota Way Fieldbook was not, as some might have thought, simply a paperback version of The Toyota Way. The Fieldbook was an altogether different book, with a different purpose. As effective as The Toyota Way was, the Fieldbook was necessary for filling in the gaps in a reader's mind, someone who thought, "Ok, I know how Toyota is.... but how do *I* get there??" The Fieldbook is more of a guide for "how to implement" the Toyota Production System. The Fieldbook is one I would recommend to managers or active practitioners in a lean transformation.
Now, the Toyota Way team is setting out to write what should be considered an altogether new trilogy and series of books -- related to The Toyota Way and the Fieldbook, but with a different purpose. The three books in this series are:
* Toyota Talent
* Toyota Process
* Toyota Problem Solving
These books will, I would assume, follow a similar structure and tone, each diving deep (Very deeply, based on Toyota Talent) into a single core idea in the Toyota Mindset.
Toyota Talent is *NOT* a book only for H.R. professionals. If you think that developing people is the job of H.R., then don't even bother reading this book. Developing people, getting the most out of your organization's human potential, is the job of every leader in a lean organization. If your idea of developing people is to fire your "bottom 10%" each year, replacing them with better talent then, again, save your $20 and buy another Jack Welch tome. I saw a copy in an airport bookstore the other day, which was nice to see, but it also struck me as odd, since that seems like the executive market that the publisher is targeting. I'm happy for Liker and Meier if that helps sell more copies.
So who *should* read this book, then? Well, I think different parts of the book have different audiences. The first section, Getting the Organization Ready to Develop Exception People, consists of four overview chapters. For the executive reader, I'd recommend the first two chapters, which provide a concise summary of the Toyota Way philosophy and how developing people supports lean and, more importantly, long-term business success.
So I'm saying the executives shouldn't bother learning the details of Toyota Talent? In a perfect world, or an ideal lean organization, maybe executives would eat this stuff up. But, I think it's more realistic to have executives read the first few chapters so they can understand what their organization will be implementing. If time is tight, the rest of the book might contain too much detail. Let the line leaders and implementors digest the content and start implementing, coaching the executives with the distilled version (and key points) of Toyota Talent. If you disagree with that approach, please comment using the link at the end of this post.
Now, to the meat of the book. Toyota Talent really breaks new ground, rather than re-hashing things we've all read before. Unless you have a strong background in the Training Within Industry methodology, much of the book will be an eye opener, giving you approaches and tools that can be implemented immediately. Toyota Talent is written more along the lines of the Fieldbook, in the sense that the authors give you specifics that can be implemented, rather than just a description of Toyota's system.
If you're an active lean change agent (as a line manager or a consultant), this book is a must read. The book demystifies the world of Standardized Work and breaks it down into something concrete and practical. The book not only explains how to develop and implement a standardized work system, it also (in typical Toyota style), explains much of the "why" -- why do we implement standardized work?
The book sets a tone of not standardizing for the sake of standardizing. The methodology focuses on figuring out what matters, and doing so by getting input from the value adding employees. Focusing on safety and quality is a key part of Toyota Talent's methodology. The book gives a method for breaking down the work content of existing jobs, using highly repetitive manufacturing examples as well as a highly variable healthcare environment (a nurse in a hospital). The method is presented in a way that DOES make sense for both environments, which might be a surprise to many readers.
Toyota Talent covers the entire standardized work process:
* Deciding what to standardize
* Breaking work content down and documenting standardized work
* How to train in a highly effective manner
The book builds upon the Training Within Industry methodology, as written about in other books. But, Toyota Talent explains how Toyota built upon the TWI framework to create something uniquely Toyota, but adaptable to almost any environment.
Even with my caveats (and maybe my cynicism about executive attention spans), I highly recommend Toyota Talent. It carves out a very unique, and helpful, place in the lean literature. It's a very readable book, written in a down to earth and practical style.
Why is this so important to lean implementation? Without it the results simply don't sustain themselves. Whereas the kaizen workshops and cost reduction efforts are the bricks that can build a budget, on-the-job training of standard work is the mortar that holds the bricks together. There is no point in improving quality or reducing the cost in a cell by going to single-piece-flow if the team members can't keep up the new standards or if the team members, team leaders and supervisors can't solve all the problems which appear in striving to work at standard.
Toyota Talent shows to what extend and in what level of detail Toyota is interested in analyzing work to sustain standards and look for waste to eliminate. It also give a good idea of how to build a training program to start building on people rather than continuously building on sand. Finally, it gives detailed guidance on how to conduct on-the-job training, and how to train the supervisors to do so.
Experience of working with Toyota engineers and operators is that they simply "know more" about the job at hand. This obvious but crucial factor is a definite (and hard to reproduce) competitive edge which underlies every aspect of Toyota's success with lean, and why so few companies succeed in reproducing it fully. It is no accident that standardized work & kaizen form the basis of the "TPS temple". Toyota Talent describes the foundations of TPS and sheds the light on how Toyota works hard at developing people who simply "know more."
If you're a lean person, drop everything you're doing until you've read this book - it will shine a different light on the way you were going about implementing lean up to now - and open new avenues for thought and action. If you've not discovered lean yet, this book will remind you how the people side of enterprise, no matter how obvious and crucial, is currently largely absent from the business discourse (although alive and well at Toyota). We hear little these days about empowerment, participation, training and so on. This book will remind you that indeed, people are a company's most precious asset, and there is a tried and tested method to develop them. Read the book.
Toyota Talent's main content is the training methods used by Toyota which originates from the Training Within Industry, Job Instruction module. Training within Industry was a US program to help the war effort. After the war, they send the trainers to Japan to help the Japanese industry. The TWI material made it in Toyota and they improved it and started using it.
I was aware of the TWI JI module before reading this book. I always found it interesting, however, my main job has always been in product development. So, before reading this book, I was quite biased that "it will not work for product development".
Liker and Meier gradually tackled my bias. In chapter 5 they introduce the excellent task variety table. This makes a distinction between the different type of tasks, from routine to nonroutine. Then they continue describing that every job consists of all the different types of tasks. More mechanical jobs contain more routine tasks, more engineering will contain more craft tasks. I slowly move over my prejudice and start to see that even my own job has a whole bunch of routine tasks. Doing this in the beginning of the book made me more open towards reading the rest.
After this Meier and Liker go into very much detail on how to standardize work, break it down and how to train it to other people. The descriptions are incredibly detailed, concrete and clear.
In the end, it shortly talks about the talent development approach to nonroutine work, but unfortunately this was only 3 or 4 pages. The books could have included more on that subject also still.
Anyways, I learned a lot. I don't know yet how to apply this knowledge in real life, but I'm sure, somehow I will and this book will be very beneficial. Great work.
If you want to know the mechanics of Toyota's method, this is a very good place to get it. And you'll find -- once again -- that Toyota didn't invent it.
A key point is made early in the book - managers want to manage; however, they must also be teachers. Another key point is Toyota's success lies not in simply picking the best people - it took one of GM's worst performing plants (NUMMI) and made it successful while retaining 80% of its original work force. (My recollection is that all were offered jobs - some, however, declined.)
The vast bulk of "Toyota Talent" is taken up with breaking down various H.R. functions to not only provide readers with an understanding, but lead them into implementation as well.