There are a lot of books that describe the Toyota Production System, but most do so in a way that implies that there was a master plan to create a company-wide improvement system. But as the pioneers in The Birth of Lean explain, there was no master plan—TPS came about through experimentation, trial and error, and an evolution of ideas that shaped Toyota’s structure and management system.
This is an honest look at the origins of Lean, written in the words of the people who created the system. Through interviews and annotated talks, you will hear first-person accounts of what these innovators and problem-solvers did and why they did it. You’ll read rare, personal commentaries that explain the interplay of (sometimes opposing) ideas that created a revolution in thinking.
In The Birth of Lean, you’ll get a glimpse inside the minds and thought processes of the system’s creators and innovators:
• Taiichi Ohno—the man who envisioned a way of working that would evolve into the Toyota Production System
• Eiji Toyoda—the former Toyota President and Chairman who oversaw the development of TPS and the inclusion of TQC at Toyota
• Kikuo Suzumura—the Toyota manager recognized as the most influential in translating Ohno’s ideas into actionable items
• Michikazu Tanaka—the manager and executive at Toyota affiliate Daihatsu who adapted TPS to his organization
• Kaneyoshi Kusunoki—the former head of Toyota’s production engineering organization who refined the buffering system in use in Toyota’s operations
• Masao Nemoto—the Toyota executive central to the deployment of TQC at Toyota
In this English translation of a previously published Japanese book, you’ll hear the words of the people who created the countermeasures that Toyota devised to address issues as they arose—countermeasures that they continue to use and adapt today. By understanding that the great minds that developed such a powerful system started with simple experiments, you’ll be encouraged to begin your own experiments and transform your organization.
I originally purchased this book for it's historical appeal but quickly realized that the interviews directed me down a path of enlightenment, which occurred when I understood how Quality fit into the TPS. Lean on its own could not and did not make Toyota what it is today.