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Just-in-Time (JIT) is a lean model we’ve seen work remarkably well for Toyota. The West has embraced it along with many other lean strategies the Japanese company has originated. There are countless resources, documents, and trainings covering all things Kaizen, or Continuous Improvement, which is the headlining idea of all lean manufacturing. Why, then, are Americans seeing only a fraction of the success with these strategies as the Japanese?
Before you make any sort of guesses about the ideas that come forth or the technology available to us, know this: no idea born of lean at Toyota is implemented across all of their plants. Their employees pitch different observations, problems, and solutions across the company, and their sites reflect these differences.
So not only does the lean model work better for them, they are rocking numerous separate strategies that likely solve similar problems.
What are we doing wrong, then?
The answer likely lies within the Japanese work culture. The International Journal of Economic, Business and Finance released a research article titled, “Just-in-Time Manufacturing System: From Introduction to Implement.” Its contributors, Akbar Javadian Kootanaee, Dr. K. Nagendra Babu, and Hamidreza Fooladi Talari go into great detail about JIT and why the Japanese are so successful at it. If Americans want to make this Eastern strategy work for us, we have to figure out how to adopt some of the basic ways that the Toyota employees innately approach their work.
In part two, we will focus on two more important differences between our cultures and how to help Americans work with a mindset that supports lean strategies.
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