Keeping management lean gets the chocolates
Richard Evans | The Advertiser | October 28, 2014
CHOCOLATE was the background yesterday to a two day management master class in keeping it lean in Adelaide.
Thirty executives, from South Australian industries ranging from food and beverage to steel, were at Haigh’s factory in Mile End yesterday to listen to Toyota veteran Akinori Hyodo talk about lean manufacturing and kaizen, the Japanese art of continual improvement.
Mr Hyodo, on his first trip to Australia, is a former factory manager at the Toyota factory in Japan responsible for the manufacture of the HiAce vehicle and was in the vanguard of Toyota’s booming production system in Nagoya for 37 years.
“If there is a good company it must have a good leader,” he said. Leadership comes from the top down he said with all employees needing to buy into the culture.
“The thinking from the top of the organisation is what drives people. The thinking we need in Australia is no different to Japan, Japan is not ahead because it is anything special.”
Mr Hyodo said that living close to, but not on, the edge was the ideal place for every business to be, eliminating panic but also any complacency.
Kaizen applies equally across all business sectors he said.
Paul Smith from Shinka Management, which runs the annual lean training courses, said a sense of urgency can be the key to efficiency.
“The real difference is in the mindset. When Australian companies make improvements they can be keen to say how well they are doing. But Japanese companies will say how much better they can be. If you go into Toyota and meet with senior management they are quick to tell you what improvements they need to make.”
The lean training workshops are designed to help Australian companies become more competitive by learning from, and adapting, the techniques used by iconic manufacturers such as Toyota he said.
Mr Hyodo, who came to South Australia courtesy of the federal government entrepreneurs infrastructure program, will be talking to executives in Sydney about the benefits of lean management later this week. He has lectured in China and Europe on the benefits of lean management in China in the past four years.