Innovation, Leadership, & TPS

Before you read on, watch the video posted below, only 6 minutes of you time.

There’s obviously a lot to take away from this video, but let’s focus on one thing in particular, the innovation of the Toyota Production System, or TPS. I first heard about TPS years ago from an hour long story on This American Life (listen to the story here). The segment on This American Life tells the tale of an automotive plant in California named NUMMI, where Toyota joined forces with General Motors to help them implement the TPS in their daily production of automobiles (*).

I love innovation. I love when new ideas are brought to the table. I love when someone examines a daily process, and offers helpful suggestions to make it better. The sad truth though, is that there are leaders out there who don’t feel the same way. There is a strange divide between a leader headstrong in their want to do things their way, and a leader who is open to new ideas.

The reason I love this video is that it shows not only the small steps that can be taken to improve a process, but it doesn’t gloss over the “people factor.” George, the warehouse manager, is excited to hear new ideas, and that excitement carries over into the work he does. If a new idea can be introduced to George, even if it’s as simple as changing box size, he is dedicated, willing, and ready to try this new idea.

The plus side of this entire process is that by having a leader who is open to new ideas and innovation, it can create an enthusiasm amongst employees where they can be excited about bringing new ideas to the forefront.

What if one small idea could change one little thing about your job?
What if that one little idea could make your job easier?
What if that one little idea could make you enjoy your job even more?
Are there still bosses out there who love to hear new ideas?

Truth is, it’s a tough job being a boss, but being a boss is just one thing.
It takes a whole lot more to be a great leader.

*I’m honestly not doing the story much justice with that short description. It is a truly fascinating story well worth a listen. Link