The parallels of the ‘Toyota Production System’ and sustainability
By Presidio Buzz | December 4th, 2009
The Toyota Production System has garnered praise and accolades not only in the realm of automobile manufacturing, but in the realm of operational efficiency. Similar to how individuals interested in sustainable business focus on the the 3P’s, the triple or integrative bottom line of People, Planet, and Profits, the underlying elements of the Toyota Production System can be summarized in the 4P’s: Philosophy, Process, People & Partners, and Problem Solving. The 4P’s are at the heart of what Toyota wants to be culturally. Furthermore, there is much crossover in the fundamental framework of the Toyota Production System and Sustainability. On another note, the visible actions of Toyota are not the core of the Toyota Production System. As Stevens and Kent state, “Toyota does not consider any of the tools or practices – such as kanbans or andon cords, which so many outsiders have observed and copied – as fundamental to the Toyota Production System.” Rather, it’s the underlying cultural framework of the Toyota Production System that enables Toyota to outperform western production methods.
Philosophy: Think and Act for the Long-Term
Toyota’s philosophy encourages thinking and acting for the long-term. Management decisions are based on the long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial gains. This philosophy is the essence of sustainability – causal thinking and action today, for the benefit of generations to come. When Toyota first launched Lexus, there were only 2 complaints over defective wiring and an overheating brake light. Rather than resolving just the 2 complaints, Toyota took the initiative, not to mention the short term financial hit, of recalling all 8000 Lexus LS400s. In turn for the long-term, Toyota built a reputation of standing behind the quality of their product. For Toyota, the production line goes beyond the confines of the factory today, but to the satisfaction of the customer tomorrow……………..