Hindsight can be 20:20, even if you don’t know it. Earlier this month a group of Boeing "officials" visited a Lexus dealership in Richmond, VA to see how the Toyota Production System works… at Toyota.
Changing the oil on a 2005 Lexus GX 470 is not quite the same as building a 306,500-pound 777 transatlantic airliner. Yet that didn’t stop a group of The Boeing Co. officials from
visiting the Lexus of Richmond dealership yesterday to see efficiency
Then comes the delusion part.
The aerospace manufacturer and the Chesterfield County car dealer
practice the Toyota Production System, a bottom-up management
In reality, Toyota practices TPS but Boeing practices a few of the tools. As apparent from the tens of thousands of workers they’ve laid off… with their knowledge, experience, creativity and ideas… Boeing has no concept of the "respect for people" second pillar of lean manufacturing. This is why we continually rant on the company, while at the same time admiring their gambles with leading edge technology and hoping they pull if off.
But maybe I should give them more credit. Perhaps they are recognizing this, which is why they are visiting Lexus in the first place. As the article’s subtitle states,
Boeing officials visit local Lexus dealership to see system that involves workers in decisions.
And they did get to witness how employees are the core of the organization.
Employees in companies that practice the process are involved in
decision making. Meeting customer needs drives production and sales
goals. David M. Watts, vice president and director of fixed operations at
Lexus of Richmond, walked the officials through the dealership and
showed how the dealer had applied employee ideas and suggestions. From parking a row of cars used for test drives in easy view of the
showroom to car-wash protocol, Watts said, each procedure was designed
to make the job easier and the customer happier.
It remains to be seen if Boeing learned something from the experience.
While Boeing builds planes inside a 98-acre factory in Everett,
Wash., and the Lexus dealership operates from a 15-acre lot shared with
Whitlow Chevrolet in Midlothian, the goals are similar, said Douglas A.
Crabb of Boeing’s Lean Benchmarking & Collaboration, Lean
"We have to make sure our employees feel they are a part of the
process, because they are the ones that know best what goes into a job
and what it takes to work the best way," Crabb said. He said the company has changed several of its parts-making processes to ease the burden on individual employees.
Too bad tens of thousands no longer have an opportunity to be part of the process, perhaps because in Boeing’s eyes "easing the burden on individual employees" means moving the job overseas.