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Pessimist or Opportunistic?


are currently in their glory We are in the midst of an economic storm of unknown.

proportions. The pessimists are lining up for their share of a bailout package, jettisoning talent and resources and in some cases their intellectual property and technology. In common is that they are all complaining very loudly to justify and rationalize either their decisions or the consequences happening to them and their business.


are looking at the markets and others to justify their actions while other arm-chair critics are communicating to them that they are doing the wrong thing.

For example, for years eyes have been on Toyota as the business model to replicate. Indeed

the Toyota model has many merits and benefits that can bode well to any business model Now the eyes have again turned to Toyota to see how they adapt to the current situation The questions are being raised about the impact of Toyota releasing their contract workers in Japan and how this cannot be called a lay off People need to understand that a significant portion of the Toyota model is that the workforce would be comprised of at least 20% contract workers this is so the nimble Toyota Production System can flex its workforce to the change in customer demand So now we have adjusted 20% but the industry sector is down 40% what next?

Like every other production environment, they are removing production days from the schedule. To the general population this looks devastating, and the pessimists are saying see Toyota is no different than any other company This comment could be no further from the truth. Internally, Toyota Team Leaders are applauding the move from 2 perspectives.


Currently most full-time team members enjoy 5 weeks of annual leave The Toyota

schedule only has 2 weeks of scheduled downtime annually so you can imagine the

challenge of scheduling team member vacation requests, cross training required to

accommodate the requests and the resultant vulnerability of quality Now the folks are

elated since Team Members are encouraged to consume vacation days to support the no

production days. The by product will be increased quality since there will be less disturbances resulting from people vacations.


Again, Toyota proves that it had vision where other organizations where busy harvesting

in a super charged economy Back in May 2007 Ray Tanguay announced how Toyota was

going to retrain their 40,000 team members on the basics of the Toyota Production System

now they have the opportunity Back to Basics


organizations are learning how to better leverage their resources I believe that a certain amount of workforce employment correction will probably be required in many industry sectors, but the challenge will be how to leverage the residual here are 2 options.


Leverage your supply community If you are feeling pain, then they definitely are also. You

are both plagued by a common denominator, a lack of visibility of when a recovery will emerge or what will be the new datum for your business. This now makes your supply community eager to participate and support change. Use an independent facilitator to work with your supply community to create some common touch points with a focus on performance and process excellence. By using an independent facilitator your supplier will more quickly open up with their concerns and opportunities. By working together today, you will reap savings by engineering solutions and your supply community will be poised to support a quick and agile recovery as it happens.

Initially we gathered a group of our critical suppliers to share best practices although they came from different Industry sectors, we quickly came to the conclusion that they all accepted purchase orders, added some sort of value and then invoiced us. This was my first embrace of facilitating a "Consortium", we made friends, we had a lot of fun, we shared many great ideas shamelessly and we all won big individually and collectively.

We adopted this approach in the 70 ’s and quite frankly probably allowed our facility to survive as a division and preserved NA jobs Since then it has become a much-copied model globally We were also able to reduce our product costs in excess of 12% and our interface costs by 80%.


Get connected with your employees on the floor The use of daily Report Out boards speeds.

communication, increases the quality of communication but also allows you to resolve issues quickly and effectively in the center of the operation Report Out boards do not have to be limited to manufacturing areas. Make sure to add them within your administrative areas.

where the Disturbances-to-Flow originate passively and subliminally with devastating results

later in the process


Make sure you use the standard De Brief questions to maintain focus and support ...

  • What Worked Well? = let us keep doing it

  • What Did Not Work Well ?= Stop Doing It

  • What to Do Different? = Let us change to a better Best practice

  • What are your Planned Accomplishments? = are we supporting plan and targets?

  • Resources Required? = make sure we have a winner and are all aligned

Ultimately it truly is a situation of innovate or evaporate. Too frequently we witness companies struggling on their own either because they are too proud to request assistance, or they think they already have the answer ... Yup then how did you get into this situation?

Relationships and Trust are huge factors to both success and survival. In closing let me share phase 2 of our Consortium. As our suppliers got closer to us and our production requirements it hit me that they were very smart people and could most likely place orders to satisfy our requirements on themselves ... what a novel concept!! They provided workstations, log-in capability to our systems, empowered them to attend and participate in meeting representing our Supply Chain Group and we never looked back ... they delivered more in cost savings than we could have imagined but more important they injected so much innovation to our products our competitors just did not know how to react.

We can help you expand your team and resources quickly and at no cost while harvesting significant benefits.


We do more than just blog. We're active Lean practitioners who would love to help you achieve your productivity goals.

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