Posted on July 3, 2016 · Posted in Leadership, Lean, Lean Thoughts, Toyota Principles, Uncategorized












Toyota Principle #10: Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.


Like Principle #9, Principle #10 deals with developing people: individuals and teams.

I find it interesting that Toyota puts so much emphasis on following its philosophies. Here’s a company whose practices have transformed the landscape of the world’s automobile industry (and many others), but instead of emphasizing the techniques that have seemingly made them so successful (Standard Work, 5S, Kanbans, etc.), they choose to emphasize their philosophies. It’s as if they are saying: “Our principles are what have made us so successful.”

I also find it interesting that Toyota includes those Principles that distinguish it from other organizations not at the front, but at the end of their list. It’s as if to say: we know your emphasis is to make money faster, so we put the Principles associated with that first; but, the real secret to our success is our people, and the way we grow and lead them.

Some thoughts:

  • If you treat your people as expendable, easily let go at each financial downturn, you kill any sense of trust they have in you or loyalty to your organization. Is it any wonder when employees, who see you put profit ahead of their wellbeing, will not work to continuously improve their work and their workplace? Before you can change that, you have to show them that you have changed. How? Through your actions. You need to embrace Lean first, before asking them to.
  • If you believe statements like “our employees are our most important asset,” it comes out in how you treat them, how you develop them.

Back to Principle #10: this principle speaks to developing exceptional people & teams (of people).

First, let’s look at the verb used: develop. Once again, Toyota doesn’t emphasize hiring exceptional people (although they do), but growing them indigenously. That acknowledges that each of their employees is capable of becoming exceptional, if properly developed. That puts the burden on the shoulders of their managers-cum-leaders.

These exceptional people in turn follow the company’s philosophy. Why? Because they’ve seen their leaders model it for them.

So simple; yet so profound. It prompts one to ask: am I doing that? Are we doing that?