TPS Benchmarking

We Made Someone at Toyota Headquarters Unhappy

By Jon Miller Published on February 5th, 2007

We teach the Toyota system. We want to teach it to as many people as want to learn about it. As a consequence we think we provide Toyota with good PR. It seems not everyone at Toyota headquarters agrees.
Here is an e-mail we received last week from someone working at Toyota headquarters in Japan. I’ll protect their identity since 1) they didn’t ask to have their message read by thousands of people they don’t know, and 2) the e-mail was from an AOL account so it may have well been a fake.
I work for Toyota here in Nagoya, Japan and the proud holder of the Title of Lean Teacher. One of only four Americans to hold such a title that was taught by Taichii Ohno san and Dr. Shingo san before they passed away..
I asked many people about some of the your claims that they were taught in Japan on Lean Kaizen and such and they do not believe it.To hold such a title in Kaizen is ABSURD!
As I live in Japan, I think it is funny how we Americans try to make money on something that we claim to be experts in.
Stick with the failing six sigma and stop using Lean to help the failing tool.
The Japanese and I are always laughing about what in the hell are you people back in the states are going to come up with next.
If you really want to know/learn LEAN then live with the people who breathe it, believe in it and has the passion. Not by attending a week long seminar.

WOW. This person seems unhappy. Perhaps they need to spend less time worrying about what some self-proclaimed kaizen experts in America are saying or doing and spend more time on the gemba. As a Lean Teacher, this person could do far more good there.
No one at Gemba holds a title in Kaizen, so I am not exactly sure what this person is talking about. Many of us did indeed spend weeks or months learning in Japan or from teachers from Toyota group companies who came from Japan, former students of Taiichi Ohno. At least a couple of us have worked with Shingo.
But it’s not what you know or who you knew, it’s what you do. The vast majority of people doing the most important work with Lean today have never been to Japan and have not worked with Japanese consultants. The real heroes of Lean are the people struggling to make real improvements on the gemba to keep real jobs local.
What matters is not the certificates you hold or how close you were to Ohno and Shingo. What matters is how you are using your knowledge to do good for others, today.

  1. Lester Sutherland

    February 5, 2007 - 12:21 pm

    Come-on Jon, it is beneath Gemba Panta Rei to even put that stuff in a blog. What was your goal of publishing that rant?

  2. Jon Miller

    February 5, 2007 - 4:22 pm

    Fair question Lester. I suppose I did it because something about what this person said bothered me. When something bothers me, blogging about it can help get rid of that feeling, if I can articulate why it bothers me.

  3. Thomas

    February 6, 2007 - 7:50 am

    I too find this to be a disingenuous rant. If this person truly held to the underlying teachings of both Ohno and Shingo, he would not be attacking, he would be offering help. He must have missed a few lessons along the way.

  4. Ron

    February 7, 2007 - 9:48 am

    Jon, no worries I would have blogged on the topic too. But in all honesty I am guessing it is likely some failing consultant attempting to attack you since you run a very successful business and they are wondering when their next pay check will come. I cannot see how someone from Toyota would shoot off at the mouth like this idiot did. Keep on fighting brother.

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