A good friend of mine, Dan Peters, sent me a link to one of the many articles emerging in the last 24 hours on Toyota’s 11 day shutdown of its domestic plants in the first part of 2009.
“Toyota will stop output for six days in February and five days in March”
It is actually 14 days if you count the three days in January, but who’s counting.
Dan happens to be one of the smartest guys I know when it comes to Lean and Theory of Constraints so I value his thoughts and our discussions. I’m going to quote Dan so you can get the gist of the conversation.
“I can’t see the auto market recovering to its recent levels anytime soon, so they are going to be carrying a lot of non-productive capacity. I wonder how they will turn it into productive capacity. Or worse, I wonder if I’m going to have to eat my words about how Toyota doesn’t do layoffs”
My response was that Toyota should take all of its excess productive capacity (people in particular) and send them out to consult other companies that are desirous to become lean. They could charge a fair rate and provide a good service. In the end it would avoid the layoff catastrophe and help their people hone their skills.
Here is Dan’s response:
“Instead of the government giving $30B to our automakers, they oughta give a third to Toyota for consultants to go straighten out our big three, and the other two thirds to Toyota for consultants to go advise the federal and state (and maybe even local for large metro areas) governments themselves. Then, when they trim away half of the current budget from all levels of government, they’ll have funded themselves, plus a nice fat tax break for the rest of us. Don’t think I’ve ever heard of a better win-win.”
What do you think Toyota should do with its excess capacity?