Book Review: The Toyota Way – 14 Management Principles From the World’s Greatest Manufacturer


Georges Lteif

Georges Lteif

Software Engineer

Last Updated on January 17, 2023.
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7 min read


Who Should Read This Book

If you are running a team or an organization, especially if your business involves the production of goods or services, this book is a MUST-READ for you.


Synopsis

In this remarkable book, Jeffrey K. Liker presents The Toyota Way, a philosophy in business management that made the giant car maker one of the greatest in the history of manufacturing.

The book was translated into 26 languages and sold over 1 million copies.

The book discusses 14 principles, grouped into four major categories, that define Toyota’s operational excellence methods.

It begins with the story of the Toyoda family and how the business started in the late 1800s. It then introduces the philosophy behind the Toyota Way before moving on to the 14 principles that the company follows.

The 14 principles of the Toyota production system are as follows:

  1. Principle 1 – Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.
  2. Principle 2 – Create a continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.
  3. Principle 3 – Use ‘pull’ systems to avoid overproduction.
  4. Principle 4 – Level out the workload
  5. Principle 5 – Build a culture of stopping to fix problems to get quality right the first time.
  6. Principle 6 – Standardized tasks and processes are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.
  7. Principle 7 – Use visual controls so no problems are hidden.
  8. Principle 8 – Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and process.
  9. Principle 9 – Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.
  10. Principle 10 – Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.
  11. Principle 11 – Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.
  12. Principle 12 – Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.
  13. Principle 13 – Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.
  14. Principle 14 – Become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement.

The author then divides these 14 principles into four categories:

  1. The first category is entitled Long-term Philosophy and represents the company’s views on having long-term goals that benefit society. Every employee is responsible for taking the organization to the next level.
  2. The second category is about processes and emphasizes always following the right processes. There is a deep conviction at Toyota that the right processes produce the right results.
  3. The third category discusses adding value to the organization by developing its people and partners.
  4. The final category discusses how continuously solving root problems drives organisational learning.

Finally, the book’s last two chapters provide a roadmap of how to apply “The Toyota Way” to make your organization lean.

The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker is a comprehensive and insightful look into the inner workings of one of the world’s most successful and respected companies. The book delves into the philosophies and practices that have propelled Toyota to the forefront of the automotive industry and offers valuable lessons that can be applied to any business looking to improve its operations and performance.

One of the key takeaways from the book is the emphasis on continuous improvement, or “kaizen,” which is a fundamental principle of the Toyota Way. The company’s relentless focus on improving every aspect of its operations, from the assembly line to the boardroom, has been instrumental in its success. Another key principle highlighted in the book is the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Toyota’s approach to teamwork and collaboration is based on the idea that everyone in the organization, from the CEO to the assembly line worker, has a role to play in improving the company’s performance.

The book also provides a detailed look at Toyota’s various tools and methods to achieve its goals, such as the “Toyota Production System” and the “A3” problem-solving method. These tools are specific to the automotive industry and can be applied to other industries.

Overall, The Toyota Way is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how one of the world’s most successful companies operates and how its principles and practices can be applied to improve any business. The book is well-written and easy to understand, making it accessible to readers of all backgrounds. It is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their business and is highly recommended.


Key Metrics

Original Content
95%
Practical Usage
85%
Depth
100%
Authority
95%
Writing Style
95%
Accessibility
95%

Quick Review

MUST-READ

Format

The book is nicely broken down into four parts that are well structured and easy to assimilate, with most chapters dedicated to one of the 14 principles.

Style

The author’s style flows easily, and although the topic is quite academic in nature (business management), it is lively, inspiring, and enjoyable to read.

Content

The author spent 20 years researching The Toyota Way, and his findings culminated in this book’s hallmark work.


Format

Edition Details

PAPERBACK
Hardcover available

Audio CD | Kindle | Audible

ISBN-10‏: ‎0071392319
ISBN-13: 978-0071392310
157 x 279 x 234 mm
352 pages


Themes


Contents

Structure

The book is divided into four parts and 22 chapters, where each of the 14 principles has a dedicated chapter. The book’s structure is crystal clear and allows the reader to see the big picture immediately.

Original Content

This book is the fruit of two-decade-long research that started in the late 1980s and ended in 2000. The purpose of that project was to study Toyota’s methods in its manufacturing and business management to explain its phenomenal success. The book contains the insights that the author gathered during that period, and in this sense, its content is highly original.

General Tone

The book’s general tone varies between lively academic lecturing and captivating anecdotal recital of examples and success stories. I found that very engaging.

Practical Usage

This book is a MUST-READ for anybody who is not only on the business management side of the organization but might also be an engineer or technical expert in the manufacturing of IT fields and desiring to achieve Operational Excellence. Most of the material presented in the book are genuine examples of success stories gathered from Toyota’s shop floors and manufacturing plants worldwide. They are broad enough to be highly relevant in any industry in the technology field.

Depth

The author meticulously analyses the different principles that form The Toyota Way. He discusses the theoretical basis of those principles and delves deep into their historical development and evolution and the practical applications surrounding them.
Although the discussions revolve mainly around the 14 business management principles, The Toyota Way, the author does not neglect the personal influence of the Toyota leaders on shaping those principles. In this manner, he has demonstrated a perfect understanding of how organizations run.

Authority

The author spent 20 years researching the Toyota way of conducting business in the automotive industry, and in this sense, he can be truly regarded as an expert in the field.


Style

Genre

The book can be classified under general interests and business management.

Writing Style

The author’s writing style is clear and concise, and the idea flows effortlessly, which can be considered a real feat given the dry nature of the subject. It is rich in examples, interviews with Toyota leaders, anecdotes, illustrations, and vivid explanations. I had no problem following the chain of thoughts at all times.

Accessibility

The book is highly accessible with some technical jargon. It does not assume prior familiarity with advanced business management topics. However, some real-world expertise by the reader can go a long way in relating to the ideas presented in the book. The author does a great job of explaining his thoughts with real-world examples from the shop floor.


Bio

From LinkedIn:

Dr. Jeffrey K. Liker is Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, and a professional speaker and advisor through his company Liker Lean Advisors, LLC, a network of associates to teach and consult in the Toyota Way.

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