Solving the Engagement Equation with Tracey & Ernie Richardson

By Jon Miller Updated on August 5th, 2017

The Toyota Engagement Equation: How to Understand and Implement Continuous Improvement Thinking in Any Organization by Tracey and Ernie Richardson has been published by McGraw-Hill Education. The book follows the experiences of Tracey & Ernie who both spent decades learning and growing into teachers at Toyota. Today they are trainers helping others to grow.

Tracey’s journey from Toyota’s shop floor at age nineteen offers a unique perspective on Toyota’s culture and learning environment. Ernie brings insights from his decades in senior management roles in manufacturing and HR. The authors wrote this book with the intent to have the reader consider how the lesson in the book apply to the reader’s work and to their organization. Here are just a few lessons from the book that resonated with me, and I invite you to consider.

Could I be a leader here one day?

Even though she was not a natural-born leader, there was something in the atmosphere at Toyota that made Tracey think, “I could be a leader here one day.” How is the atmosphere like at your company? How do you feel about the chance to be a leader there one day? What does your management do to harm or help this atmosphere?

What is an efficient use of the president’s time?

Mr. Cho’s time walked a mile from his office to the powertrain plant in order to check on the status of a problem that shut down the plant, and in order to speak with Ernie for 15 seconds. Learn why it was an efficient of use the president’s time. How do senior leaders in your organization prioritize and structure their time? How often do senior leaders make themselves visible on the front lines? What is their purpose for going to the gemba?

What does it mean to be treated with respect?

An example of the powerful impact of being treated with respect, even in situations where we expect a reprimand, comes early in the book. Former Senior VP of Toyota Don Jackson relates stories of how an individual’s mistakes were handled. Instead of assigning blame and punishment, what mattered most at Toyota was, “[…] what we learned from the experience, and how we’ll apply that to prevent similar incidents in the future.” What does it meant to treat people with respect in your organization? How do you show respect to individuals when they are performing well? Performing at acceptable levels? When they screw up?

This is the best-written and most enjoyable book on lean and the Toyota experience in the past twenty years. It is full of lessons we can borrow to make our own organization stronger. It is accessible to beginners and will also challenge advanced learners to deepen their grasp of lean thinking. I encourage anyone concerned with leadership, continuous improvement, people engagement, practical problem solving, lean and the Toyota Production System to pick up and study this book.

  1. Tracey Richardson

    August 7, 2017 - 10:04 am

    Thank you for your post and sharing your feedback Jon, we really appreciate it and hope everyone enjoys the book and our learning journey! (We are still on it) :).

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