Toyota Company's Core Principles

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Continuous Improvement (CI) is a blanket term for the progressive development of products, services and processes through either breakthrough innovations or incremental innovations (Hutchins, 2016). There exist plethoras of techniques for continuous improvement such as PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), SPC (Statistical Process Control), Six Sigma, Lean manufacturing, and TQM (Total Quality Management) among others (Hooper, 2017). Because of this extensive variety of CI strategies, it is not a rare case to find a particular company employing more than one CI strategy aligned with its manufacturing strategy (Fukuda, 2018). The rationale behind this is that multiple methodologies are suited for various use cases (Dale & Plunkett, 2017). However, it is imperative to note that despite the numerous differences that pervade in these CI strategies, all of them follow common tenets. These guiding tenets are tracking and automation of processes, reduction of defects, reduction of variations, reduction of cycle times and workers teamwork and involvement (Li, Papadopoulos & Zhang, 2016).

Continuous Improvement Project in Toyota Company

The continuous improvement project employed by Toyota Company can be considered as having used a mixture of advanced technology and new equipment to shape the manufacturing strategy of the firm (Lwao, 2017). Total Quality Management (TQM) was the technique that guided the continuous improvement project in Toyota Company. A significant portion of the TQM efforts employed by Toyota Company took place in the late 1960s. Before then the company was in the line of truck manufacturing. However, in the late 1960s, the enterprise began producing passenger cars (Dahlgaard-Park, Reyes & Chen, 2018). In this regard, Toyota Company made efforts to improve and appraise its methods of production to a fundamental level. The efforts made by Toyota Company brought the enterprise an unprecedented level of success and by 1980s Toyota Company was one of the enterprises manufacturing high-quality automobiles in the world (Lwao, 2017). Toyota called this new system of continuous improvement, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).

The breakthrough in the implementation of TQM was the enterprise’s realisation that the principal cause of defects of its products was the wear and tear of the various machines that made the parts (Dahlgaard-Park, Reyes & Chen, 2018). Also, Toyota realised that the wear and tear of the machines were caused by the amassing of dirt and metal shavings (chips). As it will be expounded in the subsequent sections, the main problem was that the employees of Toyota followed the primary American Practice, which was to let a machine continue operating until it broke down before calling an engineer to fix it. In other cases, the employees would throw away the devices, which had broken down away before ordering others from the USA. In the end, this led to defective parts as the machines wore and tore down (Dahlgaard-Park, Reyes & Chen, 2018). Also, it led to a reduction in productivity in the company as the enterprise waited for the devices to be either fixed or replaced. Another problem that triggered the implementation of the TQM was that the workers in the company tended to move from one machine to another haphazardly leading to myriads of complications (Lwao, 2017). The application of the TQM was the only way through which the systemic operation anomalies could get fixed.

Total Quality Management in Toyota Company

Arguably, Toyota Company is the undisputed king of Total Quality Management (TQM) in the world. The efforts of Toyota Company have contributed mainly to what Total Quality Management (TQM) currently is (Miyagawa, 2018). The enterprise has been a recipient of a plethora of quality management awards such as the Deming Application Prize in 1965 and the Japan Quality control award in 1970 among others (Miyagawa, 2018). Three core tenets underlie Toyota Company’s TQM; kaizen, customer first and total participation (Miyagawa, 2018). The three principles have overseen unprecedented improvement in the quality of services and work done by the Toyota Company. It has also led to the development in all organisational aspects of Toyota Company. In 2001, Toyota Company introduced the Toyota way, which refers to a set of business guidelines guiding the operations of the entity. Kaizen forms the principal basis of Toyota Way (Miyagawa, 2018). The set of business principles aims at eliminating waste and overproduction. Besides, the principle gears at creating a bureaucratic system where all the employees can make the necessary suggestions as they deem them fit (Gunasekaran, Subramanian, Ngai, 2018). Also, the principle places more value on human participation. It is also imperative to note that the dominant focus for the Toyota Way is on long-term improvements as opposed to the short-term gains.

Toyota Company Core Principles

Customer First

Since the 1930s, Toyota Company has continually embraced the role played by the customers in determining the quality of various products produced by a particular entity. As such, Toyota Company has incorporated the voice of the customers in all of its entire TQM systems (Singh & Singh, 2018). The core tenets of “customer first” and “quality first” are the overarching frameworks that guide the quality assurance activities of Toyota Company. In 2005, Toyota Company created a customer Quality Engineering division. The division consisted of a global problem registration from the customer’s perspective (Singh & Singh, 2018). Besides, in 2005, Toyota Company established a Customer First Committee (CF), which would oversee the integration of the Customer First principles into the entire enterprise. Also, in 2010, Toyota Company created a special committee for Global Quality Review. The committee was mandated with reviewing all the company operations of Toyota Company and Strengthening the CF principle (Singh & Singh, 2018). Arguably, from the above, multiple undertakings, it is apparent that Continuous improvement is at the forefront of all the quality assurance activities of the Toyota Company notwithstanding the TQM system.

Total Participation and Total Employee Engagement

Arguably, the main aim of continuous improvement strategies and TQM is usually to have zero defects. However the larger the size of the enterprise, the more difficult it is pinpointing glitches in the enterprise production system. In this regard, it is then apparent that the low-level employees in the organization have a significant role in the full implementation of the TQM system, as they are more likely to identify the glitches and defects whenever they occur in the enterprise (Jurburg, Viles, Tanco & Mateo, 2017). Fully aware of the pivotal role played by lower-level employees, Toyota Company continually empowers them. Some of the initiatives aimed at promoting total participation and employee engagement in Toyota Company include the Creative Idea Suggestion System, which was launched in 1951 (Almeida, et al., 2018). The system was initiated to support and increase suggestions and useful contributions necessary for the enterprise development. Toyota Company also has an individual honour award aimed at recognising excellent recommendations from the employees. Arguably, the award system acts as an impetus for the employees to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to the myriads of problems faced by the firm. It is apparent from the above that Toyota Company has realised one of the focus areas of TQM, which is to enhance the utilisation of the low-level employees (Almeida, et al., 2018). The many advancements made by Toyota Company over the years in TQM emanate from the employee training in quality control, employee engagement and networks among others.


The principle of Kaizen is a Japanese concept often synonymous with quality and refers to continuous improvement. Kaizen is a core part of the Toyota Company culture. The lean manufacturing and TQM system employed by Toyota Company have primarily shaped the concept of Kaizen (Lwao, 2018). The two systems primary concerns themselves with finding various ways through which Toyota Company enhances its operations to get zero defects (Lwao, 2018). The principle of Kaizen includes a plethora of techniques aimed at facilitating continuous improvement. Some of these techniques include the elimination of wastage of time, the creation of long-term solutions to various problems the entity faces, building a customer relationship geared at customer satisfaction and devising of multiple ways of finding the root causes of numerous challenges the company faces.

Toyota Company Quality Tool: 5S

The 5S is one of the philosophies underlying the TQM system implemented by Toyota Company. The 5S concerns itself with ensuring everything is in order in Toyota Company, and multiple problems and challenges in the enterprise are more visible and quick to solve. The 5S is embedded into the daily operation of Toyota Company and is part of the enterprise culture. The 5S comprises five steps, which get broken down as follows (Veres, Marian, Moica & Al-Akel, 2018). The first S represents, Seiri, a Japanese name that means sort. The phase concerns itself with the arrangement of all the items in the workstation. All the items in the workstation that are required on a daily basis get separated from those items, which are not needed on a regular basis. The second S represents Seiton, a Japanese term which means setting things in order. The step concerns itself with demarcating marks on tools or other pieces of equipment (Veres, Marian, Moica & Al-Akel, 2018). The stage is crucial in that it eliminates time wastage when the particular item gets locked. The third S connotes Seiso and means to shine. The step follows the step where everything has been set in order and generally gets concerned with ensuring all the needed tools and pieces of equipment are clean. The stage is crucial in that it facilitates faster identification of problems such as leaking and promotion of safe working conditions. The fourth S connotes Seiketsu and means standardise (Veres, Marian, Moica & Al-Akel, 2018). The step concerns itself with the implementation of rules aimed at ensuring the first three steps are implemented regularly to achieve standardised operations. The fifth S represents Shitsuke and means sustain. The step generally concerns itself with ensuring that the implementation of the steps mentioned above becomes a habit.

Effects of TQM in Toyota and Description of Redesign Impacts on Toyota Processes

Quality Measurement

The implementation of TQM in Toyota led to the Toyota management coming up with checklists for assessing quality in every department. The management was aware of the fact that all of the departments had different ways of conducting their operations and hence needed to have different criteria for measuring quality (Lwao, 2018). Besides, the TQM led to the constant re-evaluation of the checklists to ensure that they are well tasked to measure quality and continually improve it.

Development of Cause Relationships

Arguably, if any organization is perform well, it needs to meet two requirements. First, all the parties in the enterprise need to agree on a common need/want. Also, all the parties need to decide on the cause and effect relationship. The cause and effect relationship encapsulates the trade-off relationship that the various parties in the organization are willing to make to achieve particular results (Hutchins, 2016). The TQM system led to the development of cause and effect relationships in Toyota. The management agreed that all the departments needed to work together to reduce the system costs jointly. The administration also agreed that standardisation of the process was the best way through which the company would achieve its goals. Besides, the Toyota management also decided that a project scheduling system was the one that would facilitate the optimal utilisation of all the resources available to Toyota Company. In the end, the TQM culminated to a cause-effect relationship, which further led to the positioning of Toyota as one of the car manufacturers making the highest quality cars in the world. It also led to Toyota becoming one of the most profitable car manufacturers in the world.

Prioritisation of Efforts

The implementation of TQM also led to the prioritisation of Toyota Company efforts and in particular regarding system preventive maintenance efforts. The TQM brought new documentation efforts where the management would study keenly any irregularities in the operations of the machines. Previously, the Toyota Company management followed the model of Americans where if a device began to vibrate it would be ignored until it broke completely. However, after the implementation of the TQM, the Toyota Company put in measures where if a machine began vibrating, the device would be stopped, and taken apart to observe what caused the vibration (Lwao, 2018). The workers had started learning the practical details regarding the operations of the machines, and so this was possible. Also, this stopped the overreliance on external engineers to fix such problems. In some cases, Toyota Company began redesigning and modifying various parts within their tooling to enhance performance.

Prevention of Defection

Before the implementation of TQM, Toyota Company, factories were synonymous to the American factories; they had chip and dirt scattered all over. However, the implementation of the TQM saw this change. The application of the TQM saw the management become increasingly aware of the fact that it was dirt, which was causing wear and tear, which further led to the defects on the machines. Consequently, the management began by facilitating outside cleaning. The company would set sweeping and cleaning regimes (Miygawa, 2018). Besides, the administration oversaw the regular taking apart of the machines for cleaning. Lastly, the enterprise began setting out their expertise aside to design special guards and covers aimed at keeping dirt and chips out of the devices permanently.

Enhancement of the Process

As mentioned in the preceding section, one of the chief causes for the constant breakdown of machines in Toyota was the continuous movement of the employees within the factories. In this regard, the implementation of the TQM saw a stop to this. With the new strategy, all the employees were assigned to individual machines and hence the need to continually move around got eliminated. The new plan also saw all the Toyota Company employees being required to keep personal notebooks for documenting the status of their machines. Before the implementation of this new strategy, the employees conceived the devices as only little black boxes. With the implementation of the TQM, all the employees were needed to document the complete maintenance history of the machines, the operations of the devices, and their internal function. As such, the workers started taking their devices apart to learn about them more. In the long run, this eliminated the hoarding of the essential mechanical knowledge to a few absentee engineers, as the knowledge was now accessible by a plethora of the workers.

Customer Satisfaction

As mentioned earlier, one of the overarching goals of TQM is to increase consumer satisfaction. The entire system of the tools, training, techniques and CI of the organisational processes employed by Toyota Company aims at reaching a common end goal of customer satisfaction (Hooper, 2017). In many countries, Toyota Company vehicles are the most preferred. Also, recent years have seen a surge in the number of customers praising Toyota Company cars for their higher market values, car safety and reliable customer service.

To sum it up, the paper has illustrated that continuous improvement refers to a blanket term for the progressive development of products, services and processes through either breakthrough innovations or incremental innovations. The paper has also illustrated that there exist various techniques of continuous improvement. Some of the methods of CI mentioned in the essay include PDCA, SPC, Lean Manufacturing and TQM among others. The article has also illustrated that the TQM management system employed in the Toyota Company is an example of a continuous improvement project that either used a new piece of equipment or advanced technology to shape the manufacturing strategy of the enterprise. Explicitly, the article has shown that the TQM system is a mixture of new pieces of equipment and advanced technology. The paper has also examined the impacts of the redesigning of the process such as a reduction in waste, prioritisation of efforts and enhanced customer satisfaction among others.


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January 19, 2024



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