It is a timely topic as the Globe and Mail reports today that a Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. plant in Cambridge, Ontario led the global rankings in annual survey by J.D. Power and Associates that measures vehicle safety.
I hear that in Japan the quality culture is so pervasive that if anyone makes an error, he/ she must go around saying sorry to everyone in the company! In North American business culture this is simply unimaginable.
Toyota Production Systems is famous worldwide because of the effectiveness of the system. The major underpinnings are excellent operational procedures and a culture of continuous improvements. In the above article the president of the Toyota Motor Canada said that the Toyota mantra of continuous improvement helped the plant to reduce the number of customer complaints to a low of 12 per 100 vehicles compared with the industry-wide average of 116!
Key to Toyota system of continuous improvement is the seriousness attached to such initiatives. Processes are shut down and large investments of time are invested in resolving identified problems. The non-Toyota approach to continuous improvement, though, is lackadaisical or ritualistic.