The Toyota Effect is More than Just Cars
We haven't really given Toyota as much love on here as we probably should but when I look at where the industry is today we certainly owe a lot to them for the Toyota Production System and it's impact on not just their amazing success - but the auto industry as a whole. What I hadn't understood until my trip to SEMA last week was how the company is actively applying the fundamentals of their system to other businesses and non-profits as diverse as medical clinics and buffalo preserves.
I suppose it's difficult sometimes for a company like Toyota to figure out the right way to take credit for the things they do. On one hand they are designed to promote and market themselves but customers are cynical today - and so was I when I was first pitched this video series. However, after talking with executives at their booth I realized that this altruism is sincere and that made me excited to see what they can do to not just make great cars - but truly move society forward.
The Toyota Effect video series features four different examples of how they are applying the Toyota Production System to other industries. For instance - in "Saving Sight" among the improvements was adding a color coded system for patient files - similar to what they might do in the factory for parts. This allowed doctors to service the patients faster and more accurately with fewer mistakes.
At the Lamar Buffalo Ranch they are working to help the park migrate away from a dependence on fossil fuels. As a core component of the system, Toyota believes in managing resources. Whether on the production line or environmentally. This combined with the drive to innovate let them to a solution for what to do with used batteries recovered from hybrid vehicles like the Prius. Instead of disposing of them, they are being re-purposed to store energy generated by solar panels. While these batteries are End of Life for cars - they are still able to be used for applications like this.
Overall, what is amazing is that while virtually all companies donate "money" or "product" to organizations, Toyota is doing something more valuable. It is donating its knowledge, experience, and talent to make improvements.
As one executive expressed - the drive to make continual improvements is at the core of the Toyota Production System. That seems to be clearly evident in the video series and I look forward to seeing more organizations make bold steps like this in the future as well.
You can watch these videos and others by visiting The Toyota Effect website.
- Written by James Hills
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