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


Georges Lteif

Georges Lteif

Software Engineer

Last Updated on August 8, 2022.
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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 back 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:

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

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


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 4 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 the hallmark work that this book is.


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 right from the start.

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 the methods that Toyota was employing in their manufacturing and their business management to explain their 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 the shop floors and manufacturing plants that Toyota has worldwide. They are broad enough to be highly relevant in any industry in the technology fields.

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 the historical development and evolution of those principles and the practical applications that surround them.
Although the discussions revolve mainly around the 14 principles of business management that are The Toyota Way, the author does not neglect the personal influence that the Toyota leaders had 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 on the field.


Style

Genre

The book can be classified under general interests, 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 at 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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