A lesson for the top management from Mr Successful

eiji-toyoda“Our workers provide 1.5 million suggestions a year, and 95 percent of them are put to practical use. There is an almost tangible concern for improvement in the air at Toyota.”

Let’s try that with our statutory services…

“Our workers provide over 40 suggestions a year, and 95 percent of them are put straight in the waste bin. There is almost no tangible concern for improvement in the air at most hospitals”

Eiji Toyoda has died aged 100 – but his legacy (no, not the car model) has been picked up by more than 100 consultancy firms.

The lovely irony in the Toyota story was this man’s travels to find out what made Ford successful in the late 1950s, and then Ford coming over to Japan to see why he was wiping the floor with their sales figures in the ’70s. The methods he introduced would not translate to the command and control management thinking of the west – they tried to implement them using their old top down formula, a failure of understanding that is being repeated to this day.

“One of the features of the Japanese workers is that they use their brains as well as their hands,”

and herein lies the problem…

Sure, we have capable workers at all levels of the NHS, sure they can use their brains, except they are restricted and prevented from doing so in the workplace.  Today I hear more and more how “super management teams” are going to take the failing NHS trusts under their wing and make their systems work better.

OK, so that would be undoing years of:- imposed targets, multiple and contradictory performance measures, documentation orders multiplied upon documentation orders, hierarchical instructions that come to ward staff as Chinese whispers, and managers staying in their offices to work at computers and meetings of the top brass… would it?

Toyota conquered two worlds,

yes, one was all about manufacturing and production of goods, but the more important one was about thinking and systems of management. They achieved success only when managers came alongside the workers to observe and hear all these suggestions and make the system work to support them. The big question left for me is, “How to convince a whole world of career oriented decision makers that ALL decisions should be made from alongside the front line..?”

Then, maybe, we could see a truth in the notion, “Our workers provide 2.5 million suggestions a year, and 95 percent of them are put to practical use. There is an almost tangible concern for improvement in the air at the NHS”

and, “One of the features of the NHS workers is that they are encouraged and empowered to use their brains as well as their hands”.

Am I pursuing a silly dream?

Eiji Toyoda seems to have proved it is no such thing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.