Toyotism in Scientific Management
Toyotism is a method of production management created by the founder of Toyota. After the defeat against the Americans during the Second World War, the Japanese want to revive their economy. Focus on its concrete applications. This method is inspired by Henry Ford’s thought on Fordism. The organizational system advocated by Toyotism allows a decompartmentalization of functions and responsibilities and promotes the psychological recognition of workers as well as their involvement in the life of the company.
Toyotism must be analyzed more as an improved extension of Taylorism than as a total break with it. As its name suggests, it is a corporate action set up by Toyota around the 1950s which offers a reversal of production logic while keeping the same productivity objectives. The Toyota worker is versatile, more responsible (particularly in terms of quality) and the organization is focused on the increasingly differentiated needs of consumers.
It is the Japanese industrial engineer Taiichi Ohno (1912-1990) who is considered the father of the Toyota production system.
Note that, as with Fordism, Toyotism is also found elsewhere than at Toyota! The context becomes more competitive, it is then a question of responding to demand with more flexibility by producing just in time, by reducing stocks as much as possible (zero stock objective).
We can think that it is this logic which has replaced the Taylorism/Fordism couple insofar as, today, the ultra-competitive and internationalized economy requires this productive flexibility. One can even admit that the requirement of qualifications, of versatility, of accountability have improved the lot of the workers (in industry) compared to the Taylorist organization. No doubt, but the Toyotaist work is not for all that less “difficult” than the Taylorian-Fordist work.
Theoretical application of the Ohno method
Ohno’s method can only be carried out by respecting five conditions, all complementary to each other, called the five zeros:
– Zero delay. The products are made almost on demand. This is “just in time” production, “just in time”, or even the “kanban method” (which consists of labeling the parts in order to be able to recommend a new one for each use). This avoids oversupply. If certain car models (in the case of Toyota) sell less, the size of the series must be reduced, which implies a drop in stocks.
– Zero stock: almost no overproduction and therefore no additional storage costs.
– Zero paper: thanks to the “kanban” method, there is no internal paperwork and a reduction in the hierarchy is operated.
– Zero defects: no product must be defective to avoid incurring repair costs (after-sales service is expensive) and to satisfy customers.
– Zero breakdowns: no defects in the machines, made possible by regular and rigorous maintenance of them.
Practical application of the Ohno method: Toyotism
The formal application of Toyotaism at Toyota is called the Toyota Production System (TPS). This system has many advantages and consists of so-called “lean” manufacturing. Spare parts are supplied in the right place, at the right time, and in sufficient quantity, without waste. Only production meeting a specific demand leaves the production line.
Several points are grouped together in this production system:
– Just-in-time: method of organizing production consisting in avoiding any unnecessary stock, by receiving the necessary elements just when they are to be implemented.
– The empowerment of machines: contraction of autonomy and automation. It is the ability of a machine to stop as soon as it encounters a problem. A single supervisor can then monitor all the machines.
– Kaizen: philosophy or approach that consists of continuous improvement, step by step and not radical. Here, it is a principle of empowerment of the teams responsible for defining standard production times and distributing the various manufacturing operations of a product in order to work more efficiently and certainly more quickly.
– The kanban: labeling system which allows you to constantly know the state of the stock and therefore to order only the parts necessary for production.
– The quality circle: working group made up of operators and managers, formed around kaizen activities, which covers issues of quality, maintenance, safety, cost price, etc.
The limits and disadvantages of Toyotism
The disadvantages of Toyotism are few compared to those of Taylorism and Fordism. Toyotism seems to be the ideal model of business organization regarding productivity.
It is important to remember that this form of organization is feasible and prosperous only if the corporate culture is applied. In addition, in Japan, the Toyota company has benefited from the country’s exceptional economic growth since the 1960s.
Critics of Toyotism methodes
Satoshi Kamata, a Japanese journalist, made a very critical analysis of this system in the publication of a book, Toyota. The Despair Factory (released under this name in France in 2008). In 1972, he spent five months sharing the daily life of workers on the assembly lines at the Toyota factory in Nagoya.
He recounts the endless increase in speed, the versatility of stopgap, the competition and the indoctrination of his colleagues in the name of entrepreneurship.
Toyotism has become an ideal for business management
Here are the 14 principles, called Toyota principles, which stem from Toyotism, whose organizational model, initially intended for automobile production, has been adapted to any type of company in terms of personnel management.
Make management decisions with the long term in mind, even if this is at the expense of short term goals.
– Ensure a continuous and uninterrupted flow of information and materials in the processes.
– Produce in pull flow, that is to say, produce only the products and services requested, at the time requested and in the quantity requested.
– Level the workload in order to: 1. Reduce waste, 2. Do not overload employees and equipment, 3. Do not create irregular production levels.
– Build a culture that encourages employees to stop and take the time to resolve quality issues when they arise.
– Document the processes and work methods in order to standardize the ways of proceeding. Standardization is the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.
– Implement visual controls to make problems visible. Problems drive continuous improvement.
– Use only reliable and proven technologies.
– Encourage collaboration between employees to create strong teams. Success depends on teamwork, not just a few individuals.
– Respect and collaborate with partners and suppliers to improve the business.
– Move around to see with your own eyes and understand the current situation.
– Take time to make decisions by consensus. Once the decision is made, it must be implemented quickly.
– Create a learning corporate culture that encourages each employee to reflect on their mistakes and seek continuous improvement.
– Promote the development of leaders responsible for conveying the values of the company and training employees to ensure the sustainability of these 14 principles.