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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book Review Toyota Way Lean Leadership

You can’t be Lean with Lean Leadership. The tools are easy to copy but without the people and the leadership they are useless.  Understanding the people aspect of Toyota is the real challenge, until now. Jeffrey Liker and Gary Convis have made this possible with The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership. The combination of Jeff’s decades of research into the practices of Toyota and Gary’s experience of learning leadership from Toyota come together in a unique way to share a model for achieving and sustaining excellence through leadership development.

Liker & Convis offer a clear explanation of Toyota's leadership development model. Basically, this model consists of 4 levels: (1) commit to self-development, (2) coach and develop others,(3) support daily kaizen, (4) create vision and align goals. They explain the importance of "True North" as overarching vision, which is central to decision making.

This book guides you through the Toyota way of developing their leaders. They unlock a new kind of leadership where the emphasis is on learning by doing, and then teaching by doing. A model starting from self development, then coaching others, keeping a clear direction, and supporting kaizen until the big changes are possible.

They tell stories about how Toyota developed American leaders.

Chapter 1 is an overview of the values that Toyota follows for all its operations and the leadership development model that it has evolved from these values.
Chapter 2 covers Gary’s development as Toyota leader in America (NUMMI).
Chapter 3 follows Gary’s move to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK).
Chapter 4 explains how self-development of leaders and their development of others led to continuous Improvement, kaizen.
Chapter 5 reveals hoshin kanri, the process by which Toyota manages the direction of the company, aligns goals, and deals with deviation.
Chapter 6 follows Gary to Dana Corporation after retiring from Toyota where he applies the practices outlined in the preceding chapters outside of Toyota.
Chapter 7 explores the question of how other companies can learn from Toyota’s approach and seriously develop Lean leaders who can sustain and continuously improve processes to deliver the best value to customers.

Each chapter concludes with direct advice to those who wish to learn from Toyota and apply this in their organization.

It is an easy read, with concepts that challenges thinking of most contemporary businesses, and once you start thinking of the implications, it even challenges your individual contributions to the world of work. It completely turns the tables on two basic assumptions in modern business: 1) that the leader is hired because he or she already knows everything and needs to get others to execute and 2) that competence is hired in because it's the employee's personal responsibility to sharpen their skills outside the context of the company.

A great combination of factual information, stories about and from the development of actual Toyota leaders and clear diagrams, there is something here for everyone, no matter what their level of lean learning, or where they are in their lean journey.

The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership should be a must read for all leaders especially those who are serious about operational excellence and want to understand the deep and patient process that is required to develop lean leaders. This is a book I highly recommend be in your library and that you not only read it but apply the learning. We can all do better and this book can show you how.

The success of this book led Liker to offer an online course to learn the secret to Leanleadership.

When I wrote “the Toyota Way to Lean Leadership” with Gary Convis we knew that “lean leaders” would finally have a way to live the company values, become excellent at process improvement following the disciplined approach of Plan-Do-Check-Act, learn to coach others in process improvement, and lead both horizontally across the company and vertically within their area of responsibility. This allows them to achieve the challenging targets the organization needs for success.

My online course provides an overview of each step in the lean leadership development process: Self-development, Developing and Coaching Others, Supporting Daily Kaizen, and Creating a Vision and Aligned Goals. Throughout the course you will learn more deeply through exercises, case examples, quizzes. and actual projects in your workplace under the guidance of talented lean coaches (LLI Coaches).


The publisher provided me a copy of The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership for review.

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