The keys to the Toyota Production System (TPS): The 4P and the 14 Principles

Structure of the Toyota Production System
SOURCE: ‘The Toyota Way’ – Jeffrey Liker (2004)
Jeffrey Liker Dr., professor of industrial engineering at the University of Michigan, is the author of ‘The Toyota Way’ (2004), an excellent compendium highlighting the principles that made Toyota Production System (TPS – Toyota Production System -ト ヨ タ 生産 方式) a role model.

What sets it apart from other production systems? Why it became so successful? Analyzing these 14 Principles one can begin to answer these questions. To facilitate understanding, the author divided these principles into four categories that he called the ‘4P’ because each begins with P in English: Philosophy (Philosophy), process (Process), People and Partners (People and Partners ) and Problem Solving (Problem Solving). The model of the 4P Liker is represented graphically by a pyramid based on the philosophy and ascending to Problem Solving. We develop each category, detailing each of the principles included.

4P model Toyota
SOURCE: ‘The Toyota Way’ – Jeffrey Liker (2004)

(I) Philosophy long term.

As we are used, any system or concept of Japanese origin is not only a way of working, of doing things, but it is based on a philosophy, a way of thinking and seeing things. A way of living aligned with established principles. As oriental philosophy, TPS bases its decisions on the long term, without seeking immediate and ephemeral results. The entire organization must be aligned with the philosophy, and understand that not only seeks profit.

Principle # 1: To base management decisions on long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

(II) The right process will produce the right results.

This category focuses on the fundamental principles governing the functioning of thought Just In Time (JIT). Contemplate the principles that have to do with the operational and strategic system.

Principle # 2: Create a continuous flow process leading to the surface processes.

Principle # 3: Use pull systems to avoid overproduction.

Principle # 4: Raise the workload (heijunka): ‘Work like a turtle, not as hare’.

Principle # 5: Build a culture of stopping the fixed problems, to get quality right the first time.

Principle # 6: Standardized tasks are essential for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

Principle # 7: Use visual check for problems not hide.

Principle # 8: Use only reliable technology, tested extensively to serve the processes and people.
(III) Add value to the organization by developing your people and partners.

Partners and suppliers form a network of mutual collaboration. They are really an extension of the business. The degree of participation in the changes and improvements is essential.

Principle # 9: Generate leaders who deeply understand the work, live the philosophy and teach it to others.

Principle # 10: Develop exceptional people and groups that follow the philosophy of your company.

Principle # 11: Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.

(IV) Troubleshooting problems continually leads to organizational learning.

Toyota has a very particular system of knowledge management, which will be developed in more detail in other publications: the concept of genchi Genbutsu, involving people in analyzing a problem inviting her to see things for herself, personally the actual place of occurrence. This prevents own abstraction or based on opinions or comments of a third subjectivities. It is also considered the importance of nemawashi, as a highly innovative method of decision-making based on consensus. Finally, two ancient concepts, which are the essence of Japanese production systems: the pursuit of continuous improvement, kaizen, and self-reflection and recognition and learning from mistakes: the hansei.

Principle # 12: Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation (Genchi genbutsu).

Principle # 13: Make decisions slowly by consensus and considering all options in detail, and implement decisions quickly (nemawashi).

Principle # 14: Become a learning organization through constant reflections (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen) organization.

The keys to the Toyota Production System (TPS): The 4P and the 14 Principles

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