How the ‘Toyota Way’ Can Drive a Balanced IT Department

 
 
By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 09-01-2015 Email
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    How the ‘Toyota Way’ Can Drive a Balanced IT Department
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    How the ‘Toyota Way’ Can Drive a Balanced IT Department

    The mind behind the Toyota Production System expertly addressed productivity, problem resolution and vendor relations—and his concepts make perfect sense in IT.
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    Know Your Students Before You Teach
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    Know Your Students Before You Teach

    Understand their backgrounds, interests, work preferences and ambitions before you provide direction on a new initiative. That way, you'll immediately relate to them at their level—and earn their engagement.
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    An Assembly Line Should Only Work With the Parts Needed to Build the Car They're Assembling Right Now
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    An Assembly Line Should Only Work With the Parts Needed to Build the Car They're Assembling Right Now

    Translated: Don't allow your IT teams to clutter their minds with tasks and other parts that have nothing to do with the mission at hand.
  • Previous
    Train Your Staff to Multi-skill
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    Train Your Staff to Multi-skill

    This means workers learn their next capability even as they're mastering a current one. Thus, there are no productivity stoppages created by those who need to be brought up to speed.
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    Standardize All Processes
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    Standardize All Processes

    You will not be able to be there all the time to tell IT teams what to do—nor should you. When processes are uniformly standardized, employees will know how to do things the right way.
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    Establish Visibility
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    Establish Visibility

    Make it easy for everyone to see what kind of effort is required to effectively tackle the IT project at hand, and let them see the results of their work as they materialize.
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    Encourage Team Members to Extend Beyond Their Designated Roles
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    Encourage Team Members to Extend Beyond Their Designated Roles

    They must be flexible and capable enough to help solve unexpected problems that don't fall within their usual duties. Consider job-rotation practices to foster this.
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    Make It Easy to Say ‘I'm Sorry’
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    Make It Easy to Say ‘I'm Sorry’

    In an environment of mutual respect, employees will not be afraid to take responsibility for their mistakes, then work with you to avoid repeating them.
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    Visit Your Vendors On-Site
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    Visit Your Vendors On-Site

    At least a couple times a year, go to key vendors and service providers to get a sense of what it's like to run their business.
 

Since he passed away in 1990, Taiichi Ohno's impact within the global business community has remained firm—for good reason: He is universally recognized as the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS), better known in the U.S. as "lean manufacturing." Among the wastes he targeted for elimination: delays, unnecessary movement, over-production and activity that adds no value. In the recent book, Management Lessons from Taiichi Ohno: What Every Leader Can Learn from the Man who Invented the Toyota Production System (McGraw-Hill Professional/available now), author Takahiko Harada takes a deep dive into the concepts that makes Ohno's guidance relevant to this day. And while many of the best practices summarized in the book specifically address automotive assembly, a number of others apply to all forms of business—including IT. With that, the following lessons have been adapted from the book, addressing productivity, problem resolution, vendor/service provider relations and other key topics. Harada is a former director for Toyota Motor Corp. Since retiring in 2010, he has served as a TPS consultant for executive leaders.

 
 
 
 
 
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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