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In his book “The Toyota Way”, J. Liker proposes the 14 principles summarizing the state of mind of Toyota. Classified in 4 sections, the 14 principles form a whole with the sole purpose of setting up the precepts of the steps of continuous improvement.

More than just tools, Lean is above all a mindset that Toyota names the Toyota Way. In his time, Ohno presented this under this sentence:

All we do is look at the elapsed time from the moment we receive the customer’s order until payment. We are constantly trying to reduce this time by eliminating all non-value-added activities.”

Section 1: Long-term philosophy

Principle 1: Base decision management on a long-term philosophy even if it affects the achievement of some short-term financial goals.

  • See far beyond short-term decisions.
  • Profit must not be the only reason for being.
  • We need to generate value for the consumer, society and the economy.
  • Each function of the Organization should be assessed according to its ability to carry out this mission.
  • Accept responsibility for his conduct.
  • Improve the skills that ensure the production of added value.

Section 2: The right procedure (process) produces the right result

Principle 2: Create processes that can quickly highlight problems.

  • Redesign processes to achieve a high degree of added value.
  • Always try to reduce the waiting times within the processes to zero.
  • Create a fluid flow of materials and information between people and processes so as to quickly highlight problems.
  • Have a thorough knowledge of the processes.

Principle 3: Use the ” pull flow ” to avoid overproduction.

  • Provide the final consumer with what they want, whenever they want and in the quantity they want.
  • Have the ability to manage with minimal inventories.
  • Decrease the time to manipulate and store the material by holding an inventory of the small quantities of each product.
  • Replace the quantities used at the same rate as the consumer uses them rather than relying solely on computerized filling calendar systems.

Principle 4: Leveling production (Heijunka).

  • Eliminating waste is only one third of the equation leading to a ” thin ” organization.
  • Target the elimination of peak production for people and equipment in Leveling production.
  • Work to level the production levels of the whole enterprise rather than suffer the peaks and lows associated with the typical ” batch ” production of organizations.

Principle 5: Integrating into culture the need to stop production as soon as a problem emerges in order to produce quality at first glance.

  • Quality in the eyes of the consumer dictates the value of your offer.
  • Use all modern methods to ensure quality production.
  • Introduce into your equipment the ability to stop at the onset of a problem by visual controls.
  • Build a system in the organization that supports the rapid resolution of problems and the implementation of countermeasures.
  • Jidoka “, the machine with the intelligence of the human, is a foundation assuring to produce quality.

Principle 6: Standardization of tasks is the basis for continuous improvement and employee engagement.

  • Use stable methods that can be transferred everywhere to maintain predictability, continuity, and regular production – “pull flow “.
  • Integrate into the Standards The best practices accumulated through knowledge of processes and their correction.
  • To allow the expression of the creativity of the staff to improve the current standards.
  • To ensure the transfer of knowledge between individuals.

Principle 7: Use visual controls so that no problems are hidden.

  • Use simple visual controls to help people make the difference between standard conditions and deviant conditions.
  • Avoid using a computer screen if it forces staff to get out of their Position or cause them to lose focus on their work.
  • To the extent possible, to produce simple reports on a single page and to make the most important financial decisions.

Principle 8: To provide personnel and processes with only proven technologies.

  • Use technology to support people, not to replace them.
  • Work a process manually before incorporating a technology to support it.
  • A manual process that has proven its efficiency must take over an unproven technology.
  • Reject or modify technologies that conflict with the organization’s culture or may disturb stability, quality or predictability.
  • Nonetheless, encouraging staff to consider new technologies in the analysis of new approaches to work.
  • Quickly integrate a proven technology that can improve the regularity of processes.

Section 3: Adding value to the organization by developing people and partners

Principle 9: To train leaders who are familiar with the work, who are living philosophy and who are learning to others.

  • Train Leaders within the organization rather than buying them outside.
  • Do not see the leaders Only as very good workers with excellent skills.
  • The leaders Must be models living the philosophy of the Organization and its way of doing business.
  • A good leader Must know in detail the daily work and thus become the best teacher of the philosophy of the company.

Principle 10: Develop exceptional people and work teams that embrace the philosophy of the Organization.

  • Create a strong and stable corporate culture in which values and beliefs are lived and shared.
  • Coaching exceptional individuals and teams working in the organization’s philosophy and achieving superior performance.
  • Work hard to continually strengthen the culture of the company.
  • Use multi-disciplinary work teams to address important issues and improve quality, productivity and process flow.
  • People’s commitment is reinforced when they are really involved in improving the business

Principle 11: Respect its extensive network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them to improve.

  • Have respect for its partners and suppliers and treat them as an extension of the company.
  • Challenge partners to grow and develop.
  • Demonstrate in this way that they are considered.
  • Set targets and assist partners in reaching them.

Section 4: Continuous problem solving as a learning engine for the Organization

principle 12: To go oneself on the premises, to understand in depth the situation (Genchi Genbutsu- ).

  • Solve problems and improve processes by going personally to the source to observe and verify the data rather than develop theories from the comments or computer screens.
  • Reflect and discuss from verified information in person.
  • Even high-level managers and executives have to go and see the situations themselves.

Principle 13: Make decisions slowly by consensus. Consider all possible options. Quickly set up the chosen solutions.

  • Do not take an orientation until all the options have been studied.
  • Once the orientation determined remain cautious in its application.
  • Nemawashi ” is the process by which potential solutions are discussed with those who will be affected in order to know their opinion and to have their membership.
  • Achieving consensus is a process, although time-consuming, that helps to broaden the horizon of search for solutions and facilitates its rapid implementation.

Principle 14: Become an organization that learns through continuous reflection “Hansei” and continuous Improvement “kaizen“.

  • Once a stable process is in place, use the continuous improvement tools to determine the root causes of inefficiencies and apply countermeasures.
  • Create processes that use almost no inventory to bring out expectations and waste in the eyes of all.
  • Once the wastes are identified, ensure that staff use the ” Kaizen ” continuous improvement tools to eliminate them.



J. Liker (2004)-The Toyota Way: 14 Management principles from the world’s Greatest manufacturer

S. Hino (2005)-Inside the Mind of Toyota: Management Principles for Enduring Growth

J. Liker, D. Meier (2005)-The Toyota Way Fieldbook: A Practical Guide for implementing Toyota’s 4Ps

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