Going Lean: How the Best Companies Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Shatter Uncertainty, Drive Innovation, and Maximize Profits

By Stephen A. Ruffa | Go to book overview

Seven
Leveling Process
Variation

At Toyota … the ends do not justify the means.
The means are the ends in the making.
-H. Thomas Johnson1

IN THE YEARS FOLLOWING World War II the American system was reaching its heyday; at the same time, the Toyota Motor Company was struggling against all odds. Demand was low and variable; by 1950 the company had built only 2,685 automobiles-a number that was far too low to create the economies of scale seen by American plants that turned out two to three times this number per day. Worse still, Toyotaߣs truck sales collapsed in 1949, causing the company to fire nearly a quar­; ter of its workforce.2

Forced to rebuild from scratch with little capital to work, the firm found itself deep in crisis. Remarkably, it was this very struggle against what must have seemed to be overwhelming odds that forged the keys to its future success.

Toyotaߣs task was daunting. The company had to create a system that could thrive in the face of low, variable demand while competing with American corporations that were instead immersed within a favorable mass market-one that let them operate squarely within the optimal zones for which they had built their operations.

To make matters worse, Toyota also had to deal with new internal con straints. After its postwar mass layoffs, the company settled a crip­; pling labor revolt by giving its remaining workers guarantees that went

-123-

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Going Lean: How the Best Companies Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Shatter Uncertainty, Drive Innovation, and Maximize Profits
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Permissions vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Going Lean xiii
  • Introduction - Solving the Mystery of Success 1
  • Part I - From Crisis to Excellence 9
  • One - Awash in Chaos! 11
  • Two - Shattering the Illusion of Stability 29
  • Three - Creating a Roadmap for Change 46
  • Four - A New System of Management 64
  • Part II - The Foundational Elements 79
  • Five - Leading through Measurement 81
  • Six - From Supply Chains to Value Streams 102
  • Seven - Leveling Process Variation 123
  • Eight - To Push or to Pull? 145
  • Part III - Implementing Lean Dynamics 163
  • Nine - A Plan for Action 165
  • Ten - Structuring the Transformation 182
  • Eleven - Making Lean Dynamics Succeed 196
  • Twelve - Conquering the Crisis 205
  • Appendix - Constructing the Value Curve 213
  • Glossary 219
  • Notes 227
  • Index 257
  • About the Author 265
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