Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

November 2012    |    Volume: 44    |    Number: 11

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers

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Rediscovering the kata way

Modified Toyota continuous improvement method can lead to the next frontier of innovation 

By Conrad Soltero

For years, continuous improvement has been the brass ring that many organizations have reached for but have failed to grasp. First total quality control, then total quality management (TQM) held early promises for the continuous improvement ideal. TQM, as robust a set of principles as can be found, eventually was deemed a failure by many. Next came lean. With Toyota as a point of reference, lean has been pursued as the answer to the continuous improvement enigma for nearly 30 years. Unfortunately, according to a 2007 IndustryWeek survey, as many as 75 percent of U.S. organizations that have tried lean found it to be a cruel mirage.


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