November 10, 2006

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: The Elegant Solution

By: Jack @ 9:20 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Elegant Solution: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation by Matthew May,
Free Press, 256 Pages, $26.00, Hardcover, October 2006, ISBN 0743290178
One million. That is the number of ideas that Toyota implements every year. Built into their culture is the insight that "Good enough never is." Now, the trouble with most Toyota books is they are written from the factory floor. There are many goods ones, but they don't seem to find an audience outside operations.
Enter The Elegant Solution: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation. Toyota University gave author Matthew May the task of translating the Toyota Production System so the knowledge worker would understand it and use it. In other words, May knows Toyota.
The key to Toyota's success is the nature of constant improvement. Innovation to them is not invention or artistry. It is gaining deep understanding of the work at hand. It is about having a strong engagement in the work you do. It is about tinkering and trying new things. It is not by chance that the tagline for Toyota's luxury brand, Lexus, is "The Pursuit of Perfection".
Id like to share this paragraph with you because it infuses innovation with energy and makes it the stuff of dreams:
"Slaying dragons and storming castles isn't for the faint of heart. The root meaning of ingenuity means free thinker. In a world run by powerful bosses and inflexible systems, rarely if ever is creative license granted freely. It's taken. And that takes basic courage. Or at least a soldier's bravado. It's the obstacles that make the achievement so impressive. If it was easy, we wouldn't be talking about it. No challenge, no creativity."
The rise of Toyota is not just an automotive story. If you haven't spent time reading about the company and, more importantly, their management philosophy, here is your chance.