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"Your firms are built on the Taylor Model; even worse, so are your heads. With your bosses doing the thinking while the workers wield the screwdrivers, you're convinced deep down that this is the correct way to run a business."
Konosuke Matsushita, Executive Director Matsushita Electric Industrial Company

In the old mechanistic system, everything is driven top-down (Management By Results, i.e. “Do it how you want, but deliver the results”), and work is oriented towards pure production (working = to produce). This leads to long management cycles which typically don’t go farther than “Do” in the continuous improvement PDCA. Because of this, organizational learning is impeded and improvement within such a system happens through more or less isolated project teams.

In the new “bio-system” à la Toyota, all team members are linked horizontally (by process) and vertically (by function), and work consists of production and improvement (working = to produce + to improve). Short management cycles operate with just-in-time feedback and “complete thinking” where the PDCA is driven all the way to “Act”. Here, highly flexible teams from the gemba are used and they develop their own standards, and improve them.

The ultimate Lean indicator in this system is the number of standards that are developed, maintained and improved by team members themselves. Continuous improvement becomes a cultural trait in which every employee is involved on a daily basis.


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