The True Lean System Program at the University of Kentucky was created in 1994 to study how the development of the Toyota Production System (TPS) contributes to Toyota’s success. This increased understanding of Toyota’s experience would provide useful guidance to Western companies taking on the challenges of replicating Toyota’s success within their own organizations. The common struggle point shared by the companies who come to us is their inability to establish sustainable TPS-based Lean transformations throughout their organizations. Our work with these companies along with our study of Toyota’s own experience in bringing TPS to its own American operations has led to a belief that a major obstacle to adopting and implementing TPS into Western organizations is a lack of understanding of the essential motivational mechanisms embodied in TPS. It was these motivational factors that originally triggered the creativity and innovation of Toyota’s workforce in the context of Japanese culture. In bringing TPS to America, Fujio Cho recognized the need to pay attention to these same motivational factors with an American workforce, particularly in light of the fundamental cultural differences between Toyota’s Japanese workforce and their Western counterparts. This TPS-cultural difference needs to be clearly understood to enable Western companies to successfully transform into TPS-driven organizations. TPS is based on a learning-by-doing methodology which has lent itself to a transformative process in which organizations apply the principles of TPS and kaizen in a limited model area before spreading to the entire organization. The result of this application produces a series of incremental (often small) improvements which may be explained with the help of scale modeling principles and methodology. This paper is our first attempt to show the direct applicability of scale modeling concepts/methodology to the model area approach for successful TPS transformation, including the role of standardization and problem solving in Kaizen. i.e. continuous improvement. Our new findings show promising first steps for organizations and TPS/Lean researchers facing the twin challenges of establishing sustainable TPS/Lean models and subsequently scaling them up along a pathway defined by the needs to achieve full scale TPS/Lean organizational transformations.
Cooper, William; Maginnis, M. Abbot; Parsley, David; and Saito, Kozo
"The model area in successful lean transformation and scale modeling,"
Progress in Scale Modeling, an International Journal: Vol. 1:
1, Article 8.
Available at: https://uknowledge.uky.edu/psmij/vol1/iss1/8