By Xavier Perrin (email@example.com)
The following story makes us understand the deep meaning of the “kaizen spirit”. This text has been written by Nampachi Hayashi when he was 70. Hayashi holds the post of senior technical executive, which is said to be the highest technical post at Toyota Motor Corporation TMC). Since being assigned to the post since 2001, Hayashi has been focusing on the development of people who can adhere to and advance the Toyota Production System (TPS). He is from the last generation of engineers to have studied under the late Taiichi Ohno, former executive vice president of TMC and creator of TPS, and the late Kikuo Suzumura, a former project general manager.
Part I. Think for yourself
About the spirit of genchi genbutsu, and lean in services
Back then, you were supposed to perform thorough checks yourself, think for yourself, and finish a job on time without relying on others. Nowadays, that kind of approach would be considered workplace bullying or neglect. However, the big difference is that my superiors would always follow up by inspecting our work. Although at the time I just felt that there was no way to escape this ” bullying”, in retrospect I guess the fact that they were taking an interest actually gave me a sense of security.
In order to find the solution to a problem, the only thing you can do is patiently observe the actual situation. I was once made to stand in the same place for almost eight hours observing, which really impressed upon me the importance of thorough genchi-genbutsu — going to see something in the flesh. No matter how good a kaizen proposal is, you can never really put it into practice unless you have a proper understanding of the actual situation. Nobody is going to help you, so if you don’t get yourself involved and get people on your side, you won’t make any progress at all.
Thanks to this kind of hands-off guidance, I’m now able to get things moving in any situation I’m thrown into. Thanks to this kind of hands-off guidance, I’m now able to get things moving in any situation I’m thrown into.