Awesome. That’s how day 1 of my Japanese Kaikaku experience turned out. I am not even sure where to start or what to say. My mind is so full… and I have 4 more days to go!
Since we are outsiders, so to speak, Brad also explained that our actions are multiplied by 10. For example, if we make an attempt at properly greating our Japanese hosts in the morning with a nice “Ohayo Gozaimas” (sounds like Ohio Go Zie Mas) we gain major points. Ohayo Gozaimas means good morning in an extra polite manner.
However, if we then turn around later in the day and choose to not return a bow and konnichiwa (good afternoon) with our own bow and konnichiwa we will give the aforementioned harmony a good punch in the ribs.
After this short lesson we were off to the Holy Land of Lean – Toyota Motor Kyushu.
Toyota – Simply the Best
I have been in a lot of factories in my day – some of them quite good. Likewise, I have read all the books about the Toyota Way, Toyota Talent, and how the TPS machine changed the world. But nothing, and I mean nothing, prepared me for what I experienced this morning.
Since we weren’t allowed to take pictures or video, there is just no way I can accurately describe how awesome this place is. The best I can do is to say everything about that place is done with purpose.
It started with the greeting (and bowing) we received from the nice ladies upon our arrival. They moved with precision and knew exactly what they wanted to happen and when they wanted it to happen. After touring the show room (where they allowed pictures) and watching a short video we were off to the plant.
When you first walk into the plant a sense of calm comes over you. I expected much more hustle and bustle. I expected much more noise. Instead, I felt that same sense of purpose once again.
I love to watch things work. When I am at McDonald’s, for example, I watch how the guy assembles a Big Mac. Well, watching people work in this Toyota factory nearly brought tears to my eyes! I mean it. People seem to float about in the plant like they are on air.
As we walked along the cat walk we were able to gain a birds eye view of the assembly operation. There was just so much to see… it was overwhelming. So instead of attempting to take it all in a little bit I decided to zoom in on one particular operator whose job it was to assemble the center console and a piece of the door weather strip. If I rememder right he was assembling a Highlander.
This man, probably in his early 20’s, simply amazed me. He moved with such precision and accuracy I thought I was watching a robot. Here is the gist of what his job was.
While inside the car (that is moving I might add) he installed the center console. Without leaving the inside of the car he was able to grab his automatic screwdriver and screws (which were at point of use) and install several screws. He was then able to grab and attach a longer bit to the screw gun before installing the final screws.
Once he was done with this he grabbed the weather stripping, which was laying on the floor beside him, and then floated to the outside of the car where he quickly pressed it into position. All of this was done is less than takt time (around 1 minute).
The most amazing thing was how calm and relaxed this man looked during this process. Don’t get me wrong, he was hustling. But it was a controlled hustle. He had an amazing sense of purpose. I watched this man cycle through this process several times and consistent doesn’t do what he did justice.
I have so many notes to review, including notes on my voice recorder. Once I review these I will share more details of what I saw at Toyota.
The last thing, and perhaps the best part of the Toyota visit, happened on the drive out of the campus on the bus. The nice lady who was our tour guide stood outside and waved as we drove off. No big deal, right?
Well, Brad told us to watch out the back window. He told us how she would continue to wave and bow as we drove away. He wasn’t kidding.
We must have been a quarter of a mile away… and I could barely see this girl. Brad told us to keep watching. Then she did it.
As we were nearly out of her site this young lady took a deep and pronounced bow and held it for what seemed like 5 seconds instead of the shorter, faster bows she offered before.
I mean this when I say this small act of humilty moved me. Never has someone showed me this much respect and honor. In many companies you are lucky to get a smile and a good-bye… let alone a deep and pronounced bow as your bus is nearly out of site.
We also visited a company called TOTO today. I will share what I learned and saw there later this week. It was also amazing.
But, for now, I need to rest. I need to reflect on how I can be more humble and show half as honor as that young lady did this morning.
Tomorrow night the hotel room I am staying in doesn’t have Internet connection so day 2 highlights will be a bit delayed. I will get them out as soon as possible.
Until then, I leave you with a virtual bow and an Ohayo gozaimas (for those who read this in the morning) and konnichiwa (for those who read this in the afternoon). I can’t remember what good evening is!
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