7 Surprising Lessons on Personal Productivity Learned from Toyota

Toyota: A Guide for Personal Productivity

Toyota has been crowned the world’s largest automobile manufacturing company in 2021, surpassing General Motors that had been the leader since the 1930s. A company that has become the most productive manufacturer in the world, Toyota offers insights and guidance on improving personal productivity.

The two main pillars of Toyota’s approach are respect for people and continuous improvement, which means striving for never-ending improvement in all areas. In contrast, American automobile manufacturers’ approach was viewed from the perspective of planned obsolescence, with factory workers regarded as replaceable variable cost components, and labor seen as a commodity. Toyota, on the other hand, challenged this approach by viewing workers as the main driver of productivity and quality improvements.

The company innovated by producing cars with fewer defects, stronger durability and longer value retention and pioneered “lean manufacturing,” based on creating value in the eyes of customers. The production is demand-based (“pull”) rather than supply-based (“push”), minimizing waste and empowering employees. This change is sweeping through modern manufacturing sectors globally. The “Toyota Way” can be applied to personal productivity, with the Toyota Production System (TPS) forming the basis of a highly effective set of principles:

Create Manual Systems First

Technology is used to supplement manual processes at Toyota, where people often create signs and use them with manual lists to coordinate activities. Before incorporating expensive software, manual systems are worked out in detail. This way, there is an aversion to using technology just for the sake of technology.

Create an Environment for Constant Learning

Toyota employees strive to be teachable and are willing to share knowledge, prioritizing learning opportunities such as weekly books, courses, workshops, seminars, and articles. Investing time in focused learning is crucial to productivity improvement.

Eliminate Rather than Reduce Waste

In American systems, the production line has slack built in to ensure its continuous running, whereas in the Toyota system, there is no slack. It’s essential to eliminate what’s unnecessary and focus exclusively on the essentials. For example, unplugging the TV and eliminating the cord’s end can help avoid needless wastefulness.

Build Quality into Everything

Toyota continually works to improve consistency by standardizing operations, creating quality standards, and offering customers the best possible results. Quality is paramount, and everything must be done properly. Everything worth doing is worth doing well, and improving wherever possible should be the goal.

Create Systems to Respect and Treat Partners Well

Personal productivity requires a two-way street of mutual benefit. Toyota understands that working on personal improvement is inextricably linked to helping others improve. People collaborating to create value for everyone involved creates more extensive potential for success.

Work with Others while Maintaining Core Competencies

Toyota has become a core innovator of hybrid automobiles by making electronics a core area. It’s essential to learn and understand areas that affect life, such as tax planning, among others. Association with people who can offer help and can help in a two-way manner is crucial.

Choose Friends and Associates Carefully

Toyota meticulously selects employees through a one to two-year process and their suppliers similarly go through thorough vetting. Ideally, people who can help and be helped in a two-way manner should be associated with.

Toyota has pioneered the process of becoming the world’s first mass producer of hybrid automobiles, making use of best practices that have developed over time. These are the guiding principles that can lead to success in personal productivity.

In conclusion, Toyota’s success is based on two main areas: respect for people and continuous improvement by striving for never-ending advancement in all aspects. Creating a manual system first and incorporating technology as a tool for improvement, creating a learning environment, minimizing waste, creating quality products, and working with others to build systems of mutual respect and benefit are all key components of personal productivity. By adopting the Toyota Way, it is possible to realize significant gains in productivity and success.

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