Get our Monthly Newsletter!

The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership


Since The Machine that Changed the World (1991) defined “lean production” (based on the model of the Toyota Production System) as the next new paradigm of management since the mass production revolution, lean has spread from automotive, to the rest of industry globally, to defense, to financial services, to government, to health care, and more. As it expanded globally we have learned a great deal, both about what lean really means within Toyota, and about factors that lead to success and failure in trying to bring it to other organizations. At a high level we can view the evolution from lean as a toolkit to eliminate waste, to lean as system to deliver customer value, to lean as a philosophy of continuous improvement, and now we are moving into a new era. Lean, aka continuous improvement, is being recognized as a deep corporate philosophy that must be reinforced daily by leadership at all levels of the organization. It is a way to connect operational excellence to a company’s business strategy, but this can only be achieved if both deep and broad in the organization team members are constantly surfacing problems, finding the root cause (Plan), attempting countermeasures (Do), checking what happened, and acting on what they learned (PDCA). The role of leadership in a lean organization, as detailed in The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership, is to live the values, show the way, and develop others through daily coaching. Organizations are increasingly discovering the role of culture and leadership. Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix recipe to transform leaders from a short-term focus on quarterly returns to a long-term focus on developing people to achieve operational excellence. The typical leader in the typical organization is almost 180 degrees away from a model of lean leadership. Changing values and leadership behavior is every bit as challenging as trying to convince overweight people to change their lifestyle to healthy eating and regular exercise. They must want it badly and transform themselves. Leaders that succeed in changing themselves to lead, teach, and coach on the long-term journey to continuous improvement throughout the organization will change the game in their industry. In this book we define a model of lean leadership based on Gary’s 25 years of experience with NUMMI, Toyota, and then as CEO of Dana and Jeff’s 30 years of deep study of Toyota. We explain the model through stories from our collective experiences and give practical advice for the long hard road leaders must commit to in order to truly self develop.
About the Shingo Institute

Housed at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, the Shingo Institute is named after Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo. Shingo distinguished himself as one of the world's thought leaders in concepts, management systems and improvement techniques that have become known as the Toyota Business System. Drawing from Shingo's teachings and years of experience working with organizations throughout the world, the Shingo Institute has developed the Shingo Model™ which is the basis for several educational offerings including workshops, study tours and conferences. It also awards and recognizes organizations that demonstrate an exceptional culture that continually strives for improvement and progress. Those interested in more information or in registering to attend the 30th International Shingo Conference may visit