Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A thousand small leaps

[T]here’s an enigma to the Toyota Production System: although the system has been widely copied, Toyota has kept its edge over its competitors. Toyota opens its facilities to tours, and even embarked on a joint venture with G.M. designed, in part, to help G.M. improve its own production system. ... So how has Toyota stayed ahead of the pack?

The answer has a lot to do with another distinctive element of Toyota’s approach: defining innovation as an incremental process, in which the goal is not to make huge, sudden leaps but, rather, to make things better on a daily basis.
That is James Suroweicki writing in the New Yorker about how Toyota has overtaken GM to become the world's largest car maker. It is a good complement to Mari's post about the Japanese concept of continuous reform (kaizen) over at the GlobalGoodness blog.