There is a book by Jeffrey Liker called “The Toyota Way”. It has great insights into how Toyota has been such a success and revolutionized manufacturing. One of the strongest points I took from he book was that it was TOYOTA’s way. The strategies used by Toyota were the right strategies for Toyota at the point they were used. I have blogged about this before. This is not to say there is nothing to be learned from Toyota. There is a great deal. The key is to study the culture and the methods to determine the solutions, not the solutions themselves. Hence why this blog is titled The Ebsco Way.
I have recently been reading a book by Mike Rother title “Toyota Kata”. As in the other book there is a strong emphasis on what is right for Toyota at that time. The book focuses on the culture Toyota uses to obtain their solutions. Although most of the solutions will have little benefit for other companies, the method used to discover those solutions are interchangeable to all companies. The Ebsco Way.
In Japanese behavioral trends or procedures are called KATA. It is not guiding principle to steer decisions. Toyota Kata is the actual process or way of thinking used to determine solutions. Kata is a method used to keep thoughts and actions in synch with outside, unpredictable events. Toyota Kata is the cornerstone of their continuous improvement.
It is part of our culture at Ebsco that safety is not something we do, It is part of Everything we do. Many companies look at safety as a separate department or team within the organization. This group is tasked with identifying risks, mitigating the risks, communicating and training the employees. At Ebsco these are all elements of our safety program but safety is part of everything we do. With every task and process safety is included with every movement and decision. Toyota Kata does the same thing with continuous improvement.
Most companies put a great effort into continuous improvement. They form Kaizen events, do value stream mapping, build 5S programs. All of these are essential elements to continuous improvement. Toyota goes one step further. Continuous improvement isn’t something they do, it is part of everything that they do. Toyota has realized that their processes are not performed in a vacuum. As major continuous improvement projects are created, goals established, resources allocated, and training provided the world around the project does not sit still. By the time the project is implemented things have changed and many of their solutions may no longer fit.
Toyota’s solution is to build the improvement process into everything they do. Toyota defines where they are now and where they want to be. The path between those points is uncertain. They established benchmarks moving toward their goal and then begin making decisions to meet those benchmarks. The decisions and changes to reach their benchmarks come from everyone. The Kata or process pushes the responsibility for improvement down to everyone in the organization. The changes are made in real-time, moving with the inevitable change surrounding their decisions. Steps are made that fit the situation as it stands at that moment in time. This allows Toyota to come up with the best solutions for their situation at that exact time.
Ebsco has had so much success with our Kata or method in our safety program. The entire ebsco team has accepted responsibility for safety. It is a natural evolution to do the same with improvement. Instead of dictating changes to the team. ebsco will need to communicate a clear vision of where we want to be, empower and encourage EVERYONE to provide direction through the uncertain path and then support their contributions. It is basic synergy. The sum of the parts will be greater than their individual value. This will allow Ebsco to leverage its greatest resource, our people.
So what is the Ebsco Way? What will be Ebsco’s Kata?
- We will accept that no one or no group has all the answers.
- We will utilize our greatest asset, our team members.
- We will clearly communicate where we are and where we want to be.
- We will accept the challenge that our very survival depends on us finding better ways
- We will realize that the best solution is only relevant to that specific time and circumstance.
- We understand that the path from where we are to our goal is unclear.Synergy
- We realize that everything surrounding us does not stand still and change is the only certainty.
- We will empower and expect every team member to contribute to the process.
That is the Ebsco Way. I’m sure glad I don’t work for the competition.