Thursday, May 6, 2021

Episode 147 - Kiichiro Toyoda's challenge to his team

I’m David Veech and this is Elevate your Performance.

Post WWII, Japan was under the control of the US Military.  Our objectives were to remove war-making capability from Japan, and to restore it’s economy so it can rejoin the world in open trade.

Dozens of measures were put in place that would freeze prices on most commodities, and remove subsidies the government had been paying for critical raw materials and resources like coal and iron.

These economic controls, along with breaking up of Holding Companies in an Anti-monopoly measure, had a devastating impact on Japanese manufacturers, and Toyota was no exception.  This move effectively stripped Toyota from its sales organization.  To keep people working, including the returning soldiers, Kiichiro launched several other businesses, from a chinaware franchise to fish paste, to clothing and dry cleaning. 

To relaunch the automobile business, Kiichiro first had to study what was happening elsewhere.  They had time, since Japan was not allowed to produce cars immediately after the war, and the volume of trucks and busses it was allowed to produce was too low to fuel any growth.  He sent people to the US and to Europe to study the post war automobile business and learned that they would need to improve productivity significantly to stay in that business.  His 4-point plan for recovery included:

1. In order to repair and renew machinery that has undergone heavy use or deteriorated, establish a Temporary Reconstruction Office to comprehensively promote the restoration of the plant's equipment.
2. Change the company's parts manufacturing policies to establish and develop a specialized parts plant equipped with independent capacity.
3. Implement improvement and remodeling of the company's vehicles (which was stagnant during the war), plans for design changes, and establishment of a system for the steady supply of previous model parts for repairs.
4. Change from a company that supplied and maintained automobiles under a controlled economy to establish a sales system that will better and more fully reflect users' wishes, requests and opinions.
The overwhelming concern Kiichiro expressed was toward the livelihood of his people.  His efforts to create work for people and to focus on food, clothing, and shelter, produced some moderate effect and some businesses that still linger - including a business that makes prefabricated components for concrete houses.

All this effort still nearly failed completely when the Dodge Line came into effect in Japan.  This strict austerity initiative to control spiraling inflation, sparked a deflationary trend that resulted in some devastating decisions Kiichiro would have to make.  

More on that when I see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Episode 146 - Training Within Industry

I’m David Veech and this is elevate your performance.

Sorry about the long break.  I had knee replacement surgery for my left knee and the recovery isn’t going as smoothly as I’d like.  It’s going well, but I’m in a hurry and some things you just can’t rush along.

Before the break, I’d been talking about Toyota.  I shared a little about their founding and growth and I want to complete that picture now with a few additional stories.

During World War II in the United States, the War Department created the Defense Production Board to monitor the production of military equipment and supplies.  With so many men volunteering for military service early on, and the draft a little later on, a consistent problem was quality because new workers lacked the skill necessary.

To counter this problem, they created the Training Within Industry program.  This program had 3 key components:  Job Relations, Job Instruction, and Job Methods.  Job relations taught leaders how to interact with employees.  Job instruction taught supervisors how to teach the work techniques to employees.  Job methods taught supervisors how to engage the employees in improving the way they did the work.

These were built on sound principles of educational psychology and were scripted so the teaching was consistent.  It was very effective.

After the war, we provided all the TWI documentation to Japanese industries as part of our reconstruction effort.  At home, companies were rehiring their former employees as they returned from the war.  Since they all knew the work before the war, the figured there wasn’t a real need to keep the program and so it faded into oblivion.

Japan, however, made good use of those materials and continues to use the methodology.  In the late 80’s, as manufacturers in the US were scrambling to learn all they could about Japanese Management Techniques, we rediscovered TWI and it has since become a movement of it’s own.  

I’ll talk about some details of the program in a couple of future episodes.  This week we’ll cover Kiichiro’s challenge to his manufacturing team, a period of labor unrest in the early 50s, some lessons from Deming and Juran, how Toyota weathered the oil crisis in 1973, and the growth of their business in the United States.

Hit that subscribe button and go to my website and sign up for our occasional newsletter and encouraging word.

Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Episode 143 - Toyota in World War II

I’m David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance

Best of intentions - I wanted to get back to daily production of these, but there are so many other things going on that I can’t seem to make the time to finish the research necessary to make these historical posts.  

I have been teaching a historical timeline for years.  These are all things that drove Toyota to create the systems  they created.  I point these out to tell people that applying lean thinking doesn’t mean you have to be exceptionally creative or innovative.  Toyota did the things they did out of necessity rather than innovation.  From the start, Toyota copied parts for Ford trucks and Chevrolet cars, but out of necessity built a system for delivering materials Just-In-Time using a Kanban system.

Access to raw materials and the industrial capacity to convert them into useful products is the winner of wars - This is what feeds the size and strength of the military.  This is what won the US Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War.  

Raw materials have always been Japan’s Achille’s Heel.  Raw materials drove Japanese colonialism in the 19th century.  The first Sino-Japanese war, which was 1894-95, was fought in Korea, with China losing badly.  As a result, Japan gained control of the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, and the Liaodong Peninsula, which is where Shanghai sits.  This is where Sakichi Toyoda built a large plant to manufacture his automatic looms that I mentioned in episode 141.   

As Japan’s industries grew in the late 20s, materials ran short, so in 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria.  As China began to shift from provincial to National governance, Chinese tolerance with Japan’s interference vaporized and in 1937, Japan provoked China to war.  The Nationalist Chinese put up a strong resistance, drawing more and more resources from Japan.  Japanese atrocities from this war turned other nations in the region solidly against Japan and led to US embargoes of Japanese goods and eliminated US exports to Japan.  

Japan’s steel industry was small and dependent upon scrap metal from the US as it’s main raw materials, producing questionable quality in sheet steel needed for cars.  Toyota built it’s own steel mill but output from this was low.  When Japan nationalized for World War II, all raw materials were stockpiled by the military, which assigned them to companies to fulfill orders for trucks, airplanes, and ships.  

The peak production of trucks for Toyota occurred in December 1941, when they built about 2,000 trucks.  Because of scarcity of raw materials and constant reduction in manpower as men were called to the front lines to fight, their production levels continued to remain low. (From Eiji Toyoda’s Autobiography, Fifty Years in Motion.1985)

Toyota made it through the war largely undamaged.  One plant had been hit in a bombing run on August 14, 1945, just one week after Nagasaki had been destroyed with our second atomic bomb.  Toyota City was targeted for August 21 with a conventional bombing raid designed to reduce the entire facility to rubble.  But with the Japanese surrender on August 15, the war ended.

In the next episode, I’ll talk about peak production in the US during the war.  This was the truest lean production since the assembly line.  I’ll explain how we got there with a bunch of workers who had never worked in factories before.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list and my YouTube channel.  Connect with me on LinkedIn as well.  

Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

For more, see: 

4) Toyoda, Eiji (1985), Toyota, Fifty years in motion

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Episode 142 - Timelines for Toyota - Part 2

I'm David Veech and this is Elevate your performance.

With Sakichi Toyoda's death in 1930, his Son Kiichiro and nephew Risaburo were left to run his businesses.  As a result of a great earthquake in 1923, which destroyed significant pieces of Japan's railways, demand for automobiles soared.

Ford built a plant in Yokohama in December 1924, beginning production in March of 1925.  In 1927, General Motors began assembly operations in their plant in Osaka.  The surge of vehicles produced by these two plants effectively destroyed Japan's domestic automobile makers at the time.

It wasn't until 1933 that Kiichiro established an Automotive Production Division within the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works.  It began prototyping parts and designs which were reverse-engineered from a 1934 Chrysler DeSoto and a Chevrolet Engine.  Kiichiro had to establish his own steelmaking department as well, because their expected demand from existing steel mills was too low.

They purchased some machines, and converted others from the Loom works to begin making parts.  Kiichiro also sent an engineer to the US from January to July of 1934 to learn more.  That engineer visited 130 plants, 7 research facilities, and 5 universities to study the automotive and machine tool industries.

The Japanese government asked Toyoda to develop a truck as well, so Kiichiro bought a 1934 Ford Truck to use as the model, similar to how he used the DeSoto as the model for their first car.  That first car, the Model A1, was finally finished in May 1935.  The first truck prototype, the G-1 was finished in November that year.  Both were prone to serious defects.

With promising developments in the domestic manufacturing capability, the Japanese government changed the licensing rules, restricting licenses to manufacturers owned by a majority of Japanese citizens, effectively restricting Ford and GM from continuing operations there.  This, despite low output of the 2 domestic manufacturers, Toyoda and Nissan.  By September 1936, Toyota's volume had grown to just 100 vehicles per month.

In 1936, Toyoda hosted a contest to design a new Logo for the company, and changed the name from Toyoda with a D to Toyota with a T, as Industry leaders recommended.  People submitted 27,000 entries with the winner announced in the October 10, 1936 issue of the Toyota News.

They established the Toyota Motor Company in August 1937 and saw their dealer network grow to 22 outlets.  These dealers became significant investors in the new company.

We'll pick up here tomorrow and talk about Japan's entry into World War II.

Give me some feedback.  Let me know what you'd like to know more about.  Post a comment or send me an email.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Episode 140 - A little on Toyota

I’m David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance.

I have been a lean teacher, coach, and consultant for over 20 years.  Lean is coupled closely with the Toyota Production System, often simply TPS.  Why?

That goes back to the mid-1980s when the US Auto Industry was struggling to retain market share in the face of a tsunami of imports from Europe, to some extent, and Japan in particular.  MIT launched a project called the International Motor Vehicle Program - IMVP - in 1985.  

The IMVP charter directed it to study not only the automobile industry, but also “…to go beyond conventional research to explore creative mechanisms for industry-government-university interaction on an international basis in order to understand the fundamental forces of industrial change and improve the policy-making process in dealing with change.”  

This quote is from “The Machine that Changed the World - The story of lean production:  How Japan’s secret weapon in the global auto wars will revolutionize western industry.”  The book was the report of the research from the IMVP.

Keep in mind that the IMVP was sponsored and funded by 136 separate companies, universities, and governments.  None was able to individually influence the research.  The researchers went in to study the systems in different companies with as few preconceived notions as possible for regular human beings.

Their analysis, reported in the book I just mentioned, highlighted the radically different approach employed by Toyota in producing automobiles, but also explained it in terms of principles that are universally applicable.  Any business can benefit by understanding the principles of lean production whether you're treating patients, selling insurance, running a supermarket, or even making coffee.

I will spend the next few videos sharing a little about the history of Toyota and how they got to be where they are, and how you can too.

If you need a boost to your lean transformation efforts, or if you recognize that your culture isn't delivering the results you need, maybe I can help.  Send me an email or give me a call.  The contact information is in my profile.

Make today the day you began a transformation to excellence and greatness.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Episode 141 - A brief timeline for Toyota - Part 1

The story of Toyota begins with Sakichi Toyoda who was born in 1867 and began his working life as a carpenter like his father.  

I heard a story once, though, about Sakichi's curiousity.  The story was that he once spent an entire day watching his neighbor's grandmother make a quilt.  In his search for meaningful work, he let the textile industry lead the way.  

What set Sakichi apart is that he wasn't content to be a regular worker.  He keenly observed the functioning of various machines, then set out to make them better.  He got his first patent in 1891 for the Toyoda Hand Loom.  

Through a variety of companies he started, he continued to research and create better and better spinning and weaving equipment.  In 1918, he established Toyoda Boshuku, or Toyoda Spinning and Weaving Company, Ltd. He built a huge plant in Shanghai in 1919 to manufacturer the automatic looms he invented.

In 1924, he completed the Type G Toyoda Automatic Loom that featured an automatic shuttle-changing mechanism, weft-break auto-stop and warp-break auto stop mechanisms and other devices to provide automation, protection, health, and safety.  In 1926, Sakichi incorporated the Toyoda Automatic Loom works to manufacture the Type G.

This loom caught the eye of the world and was licensed to Platt Brothers & Co. Ltd of England in 1929.  The money from this Patent Rights Transfer Agreement was used to launch the Toyota Motor Company.

Sakichi died in October 1930, leaving behind 8 Toyoda companies employing more than 13,000 workers.  Toyota's first set of guiding principles were derived from Sakichi Toyoda's working philosophy and consisted of these 5 points.

1. Always be faithful  to your duties, thereby contributing to the Company and to the overall good.
2. Always be studious and creative, striving to stay ahead of the times.
3. Always be practical and avoid frivolousness.
4. Always strive to build a homelike atmosphere at work that is warm and friendly.
5. Always have respect for God and remember to be grateful at all times.

Simple guidelines are always best.  What about you and your company?  What are your guiding principles?

We'll continue on Toyota timeline over the next few days.  Let me know your questions and I'll do my best to answer them.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Episode 139 - Recap, Reset, Relaunch

I'm David Veech and this is Elevate your Performance.

I have to apologize for letting this series slip.  I've been letting a lot of things distract me from this project.  I really enjoy making these short videos and sharing them with everyone, but the most value I get is simply focusing my thinking for a short period of time each morning and that actually has helped make my day a little smoother.  So it's important for me to get back into this groove.

Let's recap a little with recent episodes.

A few months ago, I reset my production schedule to parallel the outline I have built for a new book on problem solving.  That started back in October 2020.  

I did short video episodes on Why I think problem solving is so important, then some videos on yesterday's, today's, and tomorrow's problems.

I did episodes on the scientific method and the Shewhart cycle, then a few episodes working through my own C4 process including how to use the C4 cards, the C4 worksheet, and a C4 Master Presentation file.

In November, the video schedule really started to slide. After recording 22 episodes in October, I only did 8 in November, 3 in December, 6 in January, 5 in February, and this is just my second one in March.

Since I did that review, I also discovered that I had missed a numbered episode early on, so that my episode numbering scheme was off. My last episode, on March 8th was actually 138 instead of 135.

I am currently designing the capstone course for the Masters of Engineering Management program for the Department of Engineering at The Ohio State University.  That course will be 100% online so I have a bunch of videos I need to record for that.

I have 30 years of course contents that I've organized into a structured library that I want to create online courses and programs for.  I've been making the production of these way too complicated and that has kept me from making the progress I know I need to make on them.

I want to make a series of short How-to videos and give restricted access to these for clients. 

What I'm doing now is building a synchronized schedule that will allow me to get these projects done over the summer.  That's pretty ambitious for me, so I could use your help.

If, when you see one of these videos on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, I hope you'll just take a second to send me a little note of encouragement.  Even if you don't watch the whole video, leave me a comment or even a quick like.

Thanks in advance!  

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.