Toyota Production System Principles and 4 rules

The 14 Lean Management Principles from Toyota:
Principle 1 –   Base your management decisions on long term philosophy, even at the expense of short term financial goals.

  • Company mission is the foundation for the other principles. Company members should be responsible and accept responsibility for your own conduct improving workers skills that enable you to generate added value to customer, society and economy.

Principle 2 –   Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.

  • Review each work process to achieve high value-added, continuous flow and remove all «muda» to back to zero.
    Create a flow to move material and information fast linked processes and people so that problems surface right way.
    Make flow evident creating a stream map value and develop continuos improvement mentality by pushing a system to force people to think about improvement everyday and at every post in the organization.Principle 3 –   Use pull systems to avoid ‘overproduction’.
  • Produce only what’s is needed, creating small buffers and keep moving inventory moves according to customer demands. Customers pull your production and suppliers’ production.
    Make your stock visible and use kanban to pull production

Principle 4 –   Level out the workload. (Heijunka) Production should be as standard as possible and minimize waste around equipment changeovers.

  • Eliminating «muri» or overburden to people, equipment and «mura» eliminating unevenness in the production schedule is just as important as elimination of waste.
    This enables production to efficiently meet customer demands while avoiding batching and results in minimum inventories, capital costs, manpower, and production lead time through the whole value stream.
    Design processes that requires almost no inventory. This will make wasted time and resources visible for all to see. Once waste is exposed, have employees use a continuous improvement process (kaizen) to eliminate it.

Principle 5 –   Build a culture of ‘stopping to fix problems’ to get quality right. (Eliminate rework)

  • Build into your equipment the capability of detecting problems and stopping itself (Anomaly, Production stop, Call higher level, solve the problem and reproduce).
    Develop a visual system to alert team or project leaders that a machine or process needs assistance. Jidoka (machines with human intelligence) is the foundation for “building in” quality.
    Engineering and Maintenance should support into your organization systems to solve problems quickly put in place countermeasures. Spare parts and preventive maintenance are mandatory.
  • Open time between shifts to allow engineering to prepare and maintenance to work and avoid line stop is a must.

Principle 6 –   Standardised tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

  • Use stable, repeatable methods everywhere to maintain the predictability, regular timing and regular output of your processes. It is the foundation for the flow and pull.
  • Capture the accumulated learning about a process up to a point in time by standardizing today’s best practices.

Principle 7 –   Use visual controls so no problems are hidden. (Opportunities are exposed to all)

  • Use simple visual indicators to help people determine immediately whether they are in standard condition or deviating from it.
  • Avoid using a computer screen when it moves the worker’s focus away from the workplace.
  • Reduce your reports to one piece of paper whenever possible, even for your most important financial decisions.

Principle 8 –   Use only reliable and thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes.

  • Use technology to support people not to replace people. Often it is better to work out process manually  and then add technology to support people. Foolproof is sample. People should understand and think during production.
  • Introduce mature technology to avoid line stops and make sure that this technology is tested before introduction. Close a good production preparation is a key point to introduce a new project.
  • Conduct trials and tests before adopting new technology in business processes, manufacturing systems or products. Reject or modify technologies that conflict with your culture or that might disrupt stability, reliability and predictability.
  • Nevertheless encourage your people to consider new technologies when looking into new approaches to work. Quickly implement a thoroughly considered technology if it has been proven in trials and it can improve flow in your processes.

Principle 9 –   Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy and teach it to others.

  • Grow leaders within, rather than buying them from outside the organization.  Bottom to top.
  • A leader must understand the daily work in great detail so that he or she can be a best teacher of your company’s philosophy.

Principle 10 – Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.

  • Create a strange, stable culture in which company values and beliefs are widely shared and lived out over a period of many years and work hard to reinforce the culture continually.
  • Use Cross functional teams to improve quality and productivity and enhance flow by solving difficult technical problems. Empowerment occurs only when people use the company’s tools to improve company.
  • Make individuals to work together as teams together toward common goals. Team work is something that has to be learned.

Principle 11 – Respect your extended network of partners & suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.

  • Support your suppliers and Partness and introduce them in the Toyota principles. Help your outside business partners to grow and develop.
    Shows that you value them but also set challenging targets assisting in their achievement

Principle 12 – Go and see for yourself and thoroughly understand the situation.

  • Solve problems and improve processes by going to the source and personally observing and verifying data rather than theorizing on the basis of what other people or the computer screen tell you.
    Management should go over the processes to understand the problem, listen operators and technicians and verify according data provided.
  • Think and speak based on personally verified data. «Feelings are for women, data are for Engineers» said one of my colleagues.

Principle 13 – Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options and then implement rapidly.

  • Do not pick a single direction and go down that one path until you have thoroughly considered alternatives.
  • «Nemawashi» is the process of discussing problems and potential solutions with all of those affected, to collect their ideas and get agreement on a path forward.
    This consensus process, though time – consuming, helps broaden the search for solutions, and once a decision is made, the stage is set for rapid implementation.
    Be careful because Japanese companies work in parallel to decisions, so once it’s decided implementation is quick.
    Occidental companies waits for decision to start working so this requires an important philosophy change.

Principle 14 – Become a learning organisation through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen).

  • To recognise mistakes and take appropriate action to avoid re-occurrence. Lessons learnt meeting are need to improve and transfer across the organization the knowledge and difficulties of each activity.

Toyota 4 Rules

  • RULE #1: It explains us how people work. All work must be specified according to content, sequence, timing and outcome.
    At Toyota, it is clearly recognized that process variation can lead to potential quality concerns. Every task has a way to be done, a time to be spent and outcome expected.
    Through this specification of the expected successful outcome, staff will easily be able to recognize both defect and defective outcomes.
  • RULE #2: It explains us how people connects. States that every connection in the process must be direct and binary (yes/no responses). Direct connections also typically deliver significantly less customer frustration.
    Communication should be clear, no ambiguos communication between partners.
  • RULE #3: This rule specifies that every service process must flow along a simple, specified path. The specified pathways should involve as few steps, people and delays as possible.
    This concept of ‘continuous flow’ is vital to approaching the goal of an Ideal process.
  • RULE #4: Rule #4 stipulates that process improvement must be done based on the scientific method, the closest to the problem. This implies that ‘frontline’ workers are empowered to make improvements to their own jobs. Their supervisors are responsible to provide both direction and assistance to their efforts

Here you have all this principals and rules that moves you closer to a lean production.

Inigo Mayoral, Founder of

Lean Management

Inigo MayoralAuthor posts

Founder of

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