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Just-in-Time in practice at Toyota

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In reaction to a race to ‘best practice’ -- as reflected in initiatives such as TQM, JIT, re-engineering, and ‘lean manufacturing’ -- Hayes and Pisano (1994) encouraged managers to re-focus on achieving strategic fit by configuring production systems ‘through a series of interrelated and internally consistent choices [that reflect] the priorities and trade-offs in its competitive situation and strategy’. This had to be grounded in ‘a collection of evolving capabilities … which provide the flexibility needed to embark in new directions’. This admonition fit well in the organizational theory, i.e., Lawrence and Lorsch (1967), and operations management literature, i.e., Skinner (1974), which had encouraged ‘contingent’, ‘focused’ organizational forms.

Nelson and Winter (1982) offered that the structures and dynamics of organizational ‘routines’ are discovered iteratively, and writers such as Clark, Hayes, and Wheelwright (1988) and Jaikumar and Bohn (1991) emphasized that improvement and development occurs through problem solving, which, von Hippel (1994), Leonard-Barton (1994), von Hippel and Tyre (1995), and MacDuffie (1997) reminded, was situated with problem solving information localized in terms of time, place, process, and person.

This paper asserts that organizations can develop the capabilities to be highly adaptive -- able to address operational problems as they occur and capitalize on market opportunities as they develop -- by putting in place mechanisms that allow highly situated learning that is both broadly distributed throughout the organization but which also works towards common purpose. A critical element in achieving this capability is designing work -- both that done by individuals and that done by groups, collaboratively -- so that problem-solving based, improvement opportunities are evident quickly and so that these opportunities are exploited rapidly.  Download full white paper below.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 09:17

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