What Is the "Toyota Template"?

Lean implementations, operational excellence initiatives, and even specifically, the Toyota Production System (TPS) are often misconstrued as simply a methodology focused on the formulaic implementation of tools. In a recent book entitled The Toyota Template: The Plan for Just-In-Time and Culture Change Beyond Lean Tools, the author -- Phil Ledbetter -- posits that the building of TPS, with the goal to eliminate waste, evolved as problems were encountered and solutions put in place and a wonderful byproduct of it was the growth of a problem-solving culture throughout Toyota that is unique in the business world. I spoke with Phil this month and asked him: “What is the Toyota template and how does it help sustain a Lean implementation?” Here is his response:

The Toyota template is about the relevance of the Toyota Production System to any type of business today. It succinctly identifies the key elements, places them in a logical, sequential or of implementation, and explains how each contributed to the formation of the Toyota culture. It's a blueprint for any business interested in a true lean transformation. The gold standard is Toyota and my book, The Toyota Template, demonstrates how businesses can use the "template" to arrive at a truly Lean, just-in-time production system.

Specifically, The Toyota Template explains the critically important elements of the Toyota Production System, analyzes the sequence of implementation as the system developed, and places these elements in a logical order of implementation based on the history and current knowledge. In addition, it addresses the effect of each element on the culture and some of the reasons for Lean implementation failures, including the problem with the value stream mapping.

Fujio Cho, Ohno protege' and former Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, has said, "Many good companies have respect for individuals, and practice kaizen and other TPS tools.... But what is important is having all the elements together as a system. It must be practiced every day in a very consistent manner, not in spurts." The Toyota Template shows exactly how to develop this system. 

What do you feel are the major hindrances to a successful and long-term Lean implementation?