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Friday, April 30, 2010



Industry, Government, Education and Non-Profit Leaders Join Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater to Advise on Quality and Safety

Source: Toyota News

NEW YORK, NY April 29, 2010 – Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater announced today the appointment of six highly-regarded safety and quality experts to Toyota's independent North American Quality Advisory Panel, completing the Panel's membership. The distinguished roster of experts, with experience spanning the corporate, government, education and non-profit sectors, join Secretary Slater, who was named in March to lead the new Panel.

Secretary Slater was instrumental in the selection and approval of the newly-appointed Panel members. The full Panel includes:

· Rodney E. Slater, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation;

· Norman Augustine, former chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation;

· Patricia Goldman, former Vice-Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board;

· Mary Good, Dean of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and former President, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS);

· Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman School of Management;

· Brian O’Neill, former President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; and

· Sheila Widnall, Professor, MIT and former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force.

This independent group of experts will advise Toyota’s North American affiliates on quality and safety issues, working closely with the company’s leadership team and the newly-formed North American Quality Task Force, led by Chief Quality Officer, Steve St. Angelo. Panel members will have unfettered access to information concerning Toyota’s quality and safety procedures and direct communication with Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda as well as with the newly-formed Special Committee for Global Quality, led by Mr. Toyoda. The Panel will also be able to commission additional outside reviews and will have the resources necessary to pursue its mandate.

“Toyota is in the midst of a significant global effort to strengthen our quality assurance operations and set a new, higher standard for vehicle safety and reliability. We are committed to taking the steps necessary to exceed customer expectations in every way possible,” said Mr. St. Angelo. “Engaging the experience and counsel of independent experts is a critical component of this process. We are honoured to have each of these accomplished leaders partner with us to help ensure that we achieve our goals.”

“I’m pleased to be working with a group of such distinguished leaders. Each panel member is widely respected for his or her individual background, expertise and capabilities – in business, transportation, government and safety,” said Secretary Slater. “Taken together, this group has the diversity of experience and depth of knowledge needed to offer sound advice, guidance and counsel to Toyota regarding its safety and quality protocols.”
The Panel's immediate priority is to develop an in-depth understanding of Toyota's safety and quality control processes, including the significant steps the company has already taken to further improve its quality assurance capabilities. The Panel has already begun on-site reviews of the company's key operating facilities, plants and technical centres around North America. In May, the Panel will travel to Japan, where they will meet with senior company executives, including President Akio Toyoda, and visit the company's quality, research and development, and technical centres.

As one of its first actions, the Panel will undertake an evaluation of the electronic throttle control system (ETCS-i) installed in Toyota and Lexus vehicles and its findings will be made public. For this evaluation, the group will have full access to the results of extensive testing previously and currently conducted by Toyota as well as the comprehensive, independent study being undertaken for Toyota by Exponent, a leading engineering and scientific consulting firm based in Palo Alto, California. As part of its on-site reviews, the Panel will visit Exponent's facilities and meet with the firm's engineers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our lean programs

Considered by our clients to be the most effective and experiential lean certification programs in the industry, LSI offers two tracks of certifcations: Lean Belt Certification for people who want to become lean champions and specialists ("lean implementors and leaders"), and Executive Lean Certification for those who manage, lead, or strategize lean ("lean sponsors and ambassadors"). Japan Lean Tour is the "ultimate" benchmarking trip, in which you visit and see some of the best plants in the world.

Did you know that we offer more lean certification programs than any other company in Canada? For more info, please see our website:

LSI Certification Programs

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Secret Toyota Site

Well, actually not really a secret site, but this is the corporate website for Toyota headquarters that is not normally publicized.  It is in English but most people are not aware that this site even exists. It provides many insights about the current affairs at Toyota and also contains latest information about Toyota's financial/technical situation.

Take a look.....

Toyota Corporate Site

And if you click the link below, you will see the latest video/audio/PDF presentations by the president Akio Toyoda regarding their latest thoughts on the quality issues.

Toyota Presentation

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Master Blackbelt

Did you know that LSI has a Master Blackbelt Program?  Available only by invitation and limited to one or two people per year, the MBB candidates have to go through an extensive internship with LSI that are "out of this world", according to one MBB who graduated previously.

The attached video, created by a former MBB, shows some of the activities they go through.  Funny and somewhat informative, it provides insight into what the MBB program is about. This is an oldie, but it's worth watching.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tulsa Oklahoma Graduation for Greenbelt!

It's a busy month, with so many people graduating from our Greenbelt Certification Program.  This past week, our US Greenbelt participants in Tulsa, Oklahoma completed their busy program to graduate successfully.  A big thank you to our Bob for facilitating this week and to everyone who contributed to the program!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Manitoba Greenbelt Graduation

LSI offers Greenbelt in numerous locations, including Calgary, Toronto, Tulsa (Oklahoma), Winnipeg, and of course, here in Vancouver.

But outside Vancouver, the Winnipeg Greenbelt class is the longest running Greenbelt.

Just recently, another amazing class of Greenbelt in Winnipeg, Manitoba, graduated. Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Our most viewed video on

Did you know that this video - from the Japan Lean Tour 2008 - is our most viewed video on youtube? It has more than 9000 views! I am not sure why it gets so much hits, but perhaps it's because we had fun creating it and our passion shows through.

It is a summary of the Japan Lean Tour in 2008, in which our Lean Blackbelts participated in a creative "fear factor" lean show. LSI has taken more than 350 people to Japan through this program so far!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lean Trek

The winter class of 2010 Greenbelt has created a special video summarizing their accomplishment, but in the form of Star Trek spoof! This is the best video ever created by a Greenbelt class in the past decade!

Congratulations to the entire class of Winter 2010, which received the Lean Greenbelt Certification!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More from today's Greenbelt class

Our last presenter at Greenbelt class of winter 2010 delivered a short but effective ice breaker.  We all practiced some kung-fu moves!  Thanks Danny!

Vancouver Greenbelt Live!

Live from Vancouver Greenbelt Winter class of 2010

I am microblogging from our great class of Greenbelt Winter 2010, who are graduating this week. They are doing their presentation today, providing information about what they learned and what they accomplished.  23 people are in this about-to-graduate class of talented lean believers!

First group "broke the ice" by performing a Greenbelt dance!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lean Philosophy

Does your organization incorporate lean philosophy properly?  Let's think about these questions . . .

• Pull/Demand Replenishment (internal) – does the plant or office pull materials using demand-based philosophies such as Kanban? Are the materials and/or information replenished based on real demand?

• Just-in-Time Supply – do the materials or information arrive just when you need them at the right frequency based on takt time?

• Material/Info Flow & Manufacturing/Office Layout – do the raw materials and WIP or office information/materials flow well within the plant or office from process to process without interruptions? Do they flow easily through the process without getting “stuck” constantly at bottlenecks? Do the materials or information “travel” unnecessarily long distances inside the plant or office?

• Kaizen/Continuous Improvement Environment – is there a philosophy of continuous improvement inside the organization? Are the process improvements performed through teams? How many actual teams exist inside the plant or the office?

• Single-Piece/Small Batch Production – does the plant or office produce items or information in small batches or use a single-piece philosophy? Or do they produce materials or information in large batches with time consuming change-overs and setups? An example for the plant would be batching actual work-in-progress materials. An example for the office would be batching emails prior to reading them or clearing them out of the inbox.

Change Management Question

What about change management?  Does lean and change management go hand-in-hand in your company?  Here are some questions to consider:

• Management mindset – is the management (senior decision makers) “well connected” with the rest of the organization? Do they understand the needs and wants of the people working below them? Do they come across as positive thinkers, full of energy?

• Staff attitude – are the rest of staff (general staff who are not executives) members generally optimistic or skeptical about changes taking place within the company? Do they believe in the people working around them and therefore convey a “can do” attitude?

• Shop floor/employee viewpoints – do the shop floor or office employees believe in changes taking place within the company? Do they support with positive attitude or are they skeptical about the future of the company?

• Positive Culture – has the company created a positive environment that is unique to this organization? Is there culture that inspires teamwork and encourages changes that lead to long-lasting positive impact?

• Reward & Recognition Programs – does the company have a formal program designed to reward positive, process-enhancing behaviors and recognize those who makes things happen? Do they provide incentives and rewards that are consistent and fair?

• Roles & Responsibilities – are the roles and responsibilities of each employee clear, consistent, and understandable?

• Agility & Adaptability – would you consider your company to be agile and adaptable to changing environment, regardless of whether the changes are internal or external? Do they respond quickly to these changes in a positive way?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

World's first and only lean coffee table book!

World's first and only lean coffee table book!  It talks about "Reflections" and how it can transform the lean world.

Vision & Strategy

Do you plan ahead and integrate lean philosophy into your corporate vision?  Why don't you answer some of these questions to see if you are thinking ahead into the future or if you are just reactive to situations?

• Corporate Vision – does your company have a clear vision and mission statement that provides direction for you personally? Do you know what the vision of the company is?

• Lean Strategy – does your company have a clear strategy for lean and how it applies to each one of you?

• Lean Implementation Planning – does the company spend time planning for specific implementations of lean projects and initiatives? Does the actual plan exist?

• Communication of Lean Strategy – do people know what the company is doing about lean? Does the company communicate about its lean initiatives and projects to everyone in the organization?

Thursday, April 1, 2010


NUMMI's historic journey

In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: how it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. But today, GM cars still don't have the quality of Japanese imports, GM is bankrupt and on March 31, NUMMI closed, sending thousands of car workers looking for jobs. In this hour-long story, NPR Automotive Correspondent Frank Langfitt tells the story of NUMMI and why GM – and the rest of the American car business – wasn't able to learn from it more quickly.

The closure of NUMMI is close to my heart as I was one of the first people in Canada to work with the original NUMMI team during the start of Canada's first joint venture, CAMI (Suzuki/GM joint venture). We worked closely with NUMMI transplant team to ensure that CAMI, Canada's first attempt to create its first "lean" plant, will be launched flawlessly while implementing all aspects of a lean system.  In fact, I was the very first employee of this milestone joint venture "lean" plant.

This episode contains interviews with the following individuals: David Champion, Jeffrey Liker, John Shook, Bruce Lee and Joel Smith of United Auto Workers / UAW, Rick Madrid, Billy Haggerty, Richard Aguilar, Earl Ferguson, Ernie Schaefer, Mark Hogan, Steve Bera, Larry Spiegel, Dick Fuller, Geoff Weller and James Womack.

Brief History

1963: General Motors opens plant in Fremont.
1978: The GM plant builds 330,558 cars and trucks, its largest annual production.
1979: Employment at the Fremont GM plant peaks at 6,800.
1982: GM closes the factory.

1984: The plant reopens as New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., a joint venture between Toyota and GM. On Dec. 18, a Nova is the first car to roll off the assembly line.
1985: Nummi's 2,470 employees manufacture 64,764 vehicles.
1987: Canada's first joint venture, CAMI (Suzuki/GM), opens its doors
2002: Employment at the NUMMI plant hits 5,739.
2006: Production at the Nummi plant peaks at 428,632 cars and trucks.
2009: GM pulls out of the partnership.
2010: NUMMI Plant closes.  CAMI remains as a strong player in the Canadian auto industry.

Click on the link below to listen to the free podcast about NUMMI.

NUMMI (click "stream episode")