Non-Toyota Workers Get No Respect
Writing for Reliable Plant magazine (how appropriate is that?), Lean Enterprise Institute founder Jim Womack offers insight into Toyota's management style. Womack says that ToMoCo solicit workers' opinions on job-related problems– like a lot of companies. But Toyota doesn't take the kvetching at face value. "They challenge the employees and enter into a dialogue about what the real problem is. (It’s rarely the problem showing on the surface.)" The semi-confrontational style continues through the search for solutions and a measure of success. "The manager challenges the employees every step of the way, asking for more thought, more facts and more discussion, when the employees just want[s] to implement their favored solution." Apparently, this shows Toyota's "respect" for its workers. Semantics aside, a comparison between two distribution centers lies at the heart of Womack's analysis. In plant A, "management was focused on controlling the workforce through individual metrics. Employees were told to get a given amount of work done but given considerable latitude on just how to do it." In plant B, "the management had worked with employees to create standard work for every task and had introduced visual control with status boards so everyone could see how everyone else was proceeding with their work." Guess which one was run by Toyota, and how and why Womack found it superior.
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