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The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement: Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence to Achieve Superior Performance


“Jeff Liker walks the talk. This alone makes this book truly credible and makes it a necessary read for each of us seeking process excellence.

In this latest effort, Prof. Liker and coauthor Jim Franz take us deeper than kanban and hoshin kanri to the real philosophy behind Toyota’s consistent expertise in manufacturing. The authors use insight and experience to tell the story of WHY Toyota has achieved excellence. The consistent theme is the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust). This practice is not new; Demming gave it to the world years ago. But just as the concert pianist and brand new piano student can both play a C-Scale, the master has done it longer, better, with more nuance and breadth. So Toyota has more deeply understood the learning from PDCA than any of the rest of us.

Most useful, to me, were sections such as chapter 5; “Lean Out Processes or Build Lean Systems?” In these more philosophical chapters, Liker and Franz both force and lead the leader into deeper understanding of WHY; why does Lean work for Toyota when it seems to underperform for others? Is it a kanban card which sparkles more brightly? Is it better charts on the wall? Or is it the investment in people made in the context of process excellence? And, if so, just why is this the case?

It’s a long book. You won’t read it in one setting. Similar to Liker’s other books, there is just a lot to work through. There are more case studies here which will add for some readers and clutter for others. But, face it, it is tough to make a process-oriented business work so don’t be surprised you’ll have to work to understand this at a depth to be sufficiently useful.”

~ By Joseph F. Ely on May 22, 2011, AMAZON


“One of the best lean books I have read. Liker strongly pushes the inch wide and mile deep philosophy of lean implementation rather than peanut buttering a bunch of tools around the shop. Great to read to really think about how you are implementing lean and why you have failed in the past.”

~ By John S. Vermeersch on November 27, 2012


“The authors do a great job with the subject material and bring it to life with stories. The Sensei reflection sections are valuable and demonstrate the power of reflection as a key part of PDCA thinking.”

~ By Amanda Lewis on February 6, 2014

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