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Monday, January 31, 2011

Funny Ad from Toyota

As you may or may not know, Toyota is asking the public "what is the plural of Prius," in preparation for launching additional Prius models.

Here's a funny video clip directly from Toyota:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Favorite Photos

Some of my favorite photos from LSI's past programs:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Toyota Expands Prius Family

In case you missed the Detroit Auto Show, here's a clip from the Toyota Press Event in which Toyota reveals an expanded family of hybirds:

From the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota announces the growing line-up of Prius vehicles. Watch highlights, introducing future products that will make up the Prius family of hybrid vehicles beginning with the larger Prius v (versatility).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LSI Book

I haven't updated my coffee table book for a while, but it is still fresh and filled with inspirational ideas.  Currently it is the the world's first and only lean coffee table book.   Toyota Way authors Dr. Liker, Mike Hoseus and David Meier all loved this book when it made its first appearance at our Lean Strategy Summit. They feel that the book is "truly unique."
You may order one through The link to the LSI book store:
LSI books
Click the photo below to see all of the pages in full color (you can click on the icon on lower right and it will expand to full size)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lexus LFA Manufacturing

Here's a fascinating article about the Lexus LFA exotic sport machine - the most expensive Lexus ever built.

Source: Lexus Magazine

YOU’D EXPECT THE floors and walls to be spotless at the LFA Works, the unique, closed-off facility at Lexus’ Motomachi Plant in Japan that’s building 500 of the supercars. And they are. You might even have imagined the roof to be as high as it is, bestowing an almost cathedral-like feeling on this most exclusive of Lexus assembly areas.

But what takes you by surprise is the sheer breadth of expertise of the people here. Shigeru Yamanaka, manufacturing manager at the LFA Works, sums it up with characteristic precision: “We are actually a Takumi team.”

Within Lexus, a Takumi—literally, “artisan”—is one of the 10 to 12 top guns of manufacturing. To be a Lexus Takumi, you must reach a virtuoso standard of craftsmanship—the automotive equivalent of a 10th Dan black belt.

Yamanaka, who handpicked the best of the best around Lexus to assemble the LFA, is therefore in charge of the most highly trained manufacturing team anywhere, a sort of special forces of vehicle production.

Yet it’s a role he’s clearly very comfortable with: the 47-year-old is no stranger to turning talented all-stars into a well-drilled team. In addition to his current role as a manufacturing guru, the Osaka-born Yamanaka has been head coach of the Toyota baseball club. Well known in Japan, the club has been a springboard for several successful professional baseball players and is indicative of Yamanaka’s belief in the importance of human talent.

“I put together the Takumi team at the LFA Works with people who were recommended by various manufacturing departments in the company because of their expertise,” he says. “They’ve been handpicked to manufacture 500 examples of the LFA to the highest standards. At a conventional assembly facility, one worker would be assigned typically four or five tasks. At the LFA Works, one person will handle 150 tasks or more.”

That’s because creating a car as complex as the LFA requires advanced technical ability. For starters, an LFA is approximately 45 times more labor-intensive than a conventional car, which is why the order of assembly, allocation of workspaces, and recruitment of staff are the fruition of two years’ meticulous planning on Yamanaka’s and Lexus’ part.

Not only that, the LFA is such a technically complex car that its assembly relies on a deftly combined mix of advanced technology and handcraftsmanship. Each V10 engine, for instance, is assembled by a single engineer, whose signature it bears.

Plus, Yamanaka and his team are responsible for producing one LFA per day—such is the pace of assembly at LFA Works. But it isn’t really about the pace: it’s about achieving standards unprecedented even in Lexus manufacturing history.

This much can be seen in the manufacturing of the CFRP (carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics) for the cabin structure, which is carefully built up in layers. It’s a technically advanced material to work with, but it also demands keen eyesight and good manual dexterity in the weaving process.

“It is the first time we have manufactured a CFRP body. So our staff has worked hard to master the know-how from the aircraft industry,” says Yamanaka, who has been with the company since 1986. “These are different from the skills of the traditional workplace. Ultimately, we all have one ambition: to create cars that make our customers happy and satisfied.”

And personally? “As manufacturing manager of the LFA, I know my responsibility. So I work diligently every day, visualizing the happy smiles of customers. I’m acutely aware of the strong passion of those involved in the LFA, including president Akio Toyoda and LFA chief engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi. I will continue to work hard and be full of passion.”

It’s a passion that will be felt by anyone fortunate enough to drive an LFA.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Master Blackbelt Kevin Wack

LSI only accepts a few Master Blackbelt candidates every year or so, and Kevin Wack (from Moulding & Millwork) is one of the finest candidates we've had.  Almost half-way through our most complex program, Kevin  had just completed a review process with LSI's Master Sensei David Chao.  Designed to create the highest level of lean evangelist, the Master Blacbkelt Program is a one to one-and-half year exclusive certification program program.  As part of the MBB program, Kevin is immersed in some of the most challenging projects. He travels to various sites with David to learn about the best way to lead organizations through a lean journey.

Here's a short clip from Kevin:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Greenbelt Module 1

Last week, our Greenbelt class successfully completed their first module!  Due to strong demand for the program and a large class, we split the class into two groups.  Both groups completed their 5S kaizen blitz projects. In a couple of weeks they will be moving onto Module 2. Congratulations everyone for completing the first module.

Quote of the Day

We often say, "If it ain't broken, don't fix it."  But in the lean world, we should really say, "If it ain't broken, let's make it better anyways.

David Chao

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Best Blackbelt Video Presentation

Our Blackbelt program participants are required to deliver an outstanding final report out at the end of the Blackbelt class.  While most organizations may simply ask their students to present powerpoint presentations, Lean Sensei asks for something more - much more.  We ask each Blackbelt to "surprise us" and deliver "the unexpected" final report, whatever that means.

We've had everything from a karate show to a cooking class - report outs that are far from ordinary.

But one of my personal favorites was a presentation done by Bill Geofroy, who presented the entire report out in the form of a unique video show.  Normally, I would not accept a video presentation as a replacement for a live presentation, but this is an exception. You will know what I mean when you watch it.

Watch The Lean Show in Educational & How-To  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Toyota Launches New Collaborative Safety Research Center

Toyota Launches New Collaborative Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Industry-Wide Safety Projects to Focus on Children, Teens and Seniors in Collaboration with Leading U.S. Institutions

Source: Toyota

Toyota announced today that it is launching a new, advanced safety research center that will collaborate with leading North American universities, hospitals, research institutions, federal agencies and other organizations on projects aimed at reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries on America's roads.

Toyota's new Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) will be based at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan and will involve Toyota researchers and engineers from North America and Japan. The new initiative builds on Toyota's ongoing commitment to safety and quality leadership. The company estimates that it will commit approximately $50 million over the next five years to fund CSRC.

The collaborative research will pursue integrated ways to enhance safety, involving the vehicle, driver and traffic environment. Initial areas of focus will include reducing the risk of driver distraction – a growing cause of accidents – and helping to protect the most vulnerable traffic populations, including children, teens and seniors. These populations account for approximately 30% of U.S. traffic fatalities.

In addition, CSRC will conduct in-depth analyses of available accident and human behavior data to support stakeholders' efforts to evaluate and speed deployment of active safety systems.

Announcing the new safety initiative, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda said, "Toyota's new safety research center will work with leading North American universities and other partners on safety projects that benefit the entire industry. Our investment will support collaborative research aiming to reduce driver distraction and increase the safety of vehicles, drivers, passengers and pedestrians."

Chuck Gulash, a Senior Executive Engineer at the Toyota Technical Center, will serve as Director of CSRC. He will report to Shigeki Terashi, who is a managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation and the president of TTC.

"Toyota has always tried to take a comprehensive approach to creating a safe, sustainable automotive society through advanced vehicle safety technology, intelligent transport systems and traffic safety education," Mr. Gulash said. "We have a long history of working closely with North American partners to achieve our safety objectives, and our new collaborative research initiative will build on this tradition. We intend to publish as much of the research as possible so that it is available to federal agencies, the industry and academia."

Charter Partners: University of Michigan, Virginia Tech, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
The University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute will be charter partners in the new Collaborative Safety Research Center. Toyota will also reach out broadly to other universities, hospitals and research institutions in North America to invite proposals for research into advanced automotive safety.

Toyota is supporting the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) on a multidisciplinary project to assess the potential benefits of advanced safety systems in a systematic way, combining their expertise in driver behavior, crash data analysis and driver modeling.

"We at the U-M Transportation Research Institute share Toyota's enthusiasm for maximizing the societal benefits from leading-edge safety research, and will leverage this generous support with the full range of our research laboratories and databases," said UMTRI director Peter Sweatman. "This program will allow leading safety researchers to collaborate on complex issues affecting the most important elements in the automotive safety equation – the drivers and passengers who are also our family, friends and colleagues. With Toyota's continuing support, we will be able to test and disseminate research findings more widely, and to seek a more rapid rate of improvement."

Toyota's collaboration with Virginia Tech involves research into the effectiveness of an electronic coaching and monitoring system for newly licensed teenage drivers to help reduce unsafe driving behaviors. Toyota will have an active role in guiding this "Driver Coach" project alongside partners including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health.

"Given that newly licensed teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than their adult counterparts, Toyota's support of our Driver Coach project is of utmost importance," said Dr. Tom Dingus, Director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, developer of the Driver Coach system. "Based on our previous teen driving research, we can now determine, with actual video, the kinds of behaviors teens engage in while driving. The next step is to educate the teens and their parents with feedback about unsafe, and safe, driving behaviors with the ultimate goal of helping teens become better drivers."

Toyota will join The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in a pilot study to create America's first publicly available national crash surveillance system focused on child vehicle occupants. Such a system will be used to monitor trends in child passenger safety, assess the performance of new safety technologies for children and serve as a national resource to assist researchers, industry and policy-makers to set the agenda for child passenger safety in the U.S.

"Toyota's support is critical to allow us to further advance efforts to broadly and accurately measure the burden of motor vehicle crashes on children's health and well-being on a national level," said Dennis Durbin, MD, MSCE, Co-Scientific Director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital.

Toyota Technical Center (TTC), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America, is the Research and Development arm of Toyota in North America. TTC is responsible for engineering design, vehicle development, safety and performance evaluation, regulatory affairs and advanced technical research in North America for Toyota and Lexus vehicles assembled or sold here. TTC has helped develop the Avalon, Camry, Sienna, Solara, Tundra and Venza vehicles for the North American market. For more information about Toyota, visit

Monday, January 17, 2011

Inspirational Comment from Kevin Spacey

Someone forwarded this link to me, and I thought it might be worth sharing.  It's a surprisingly inspirational comment by actor Kevin Spacey about our life and viewpoints.

Take a look:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lean Books in Japan

Even though more and more organizations are moving into a lean environment, there aren't that many great reference materials yet out there.  If you go to your local bookstore - even the large ones in metropolitan cities - there are only handful of books on lean (in stock).  Of course, you'll find a wider selection on Amazon, but lean materials are "not reaching the masses."  On my recent trip to Japan, I was astonished to see so many books on lean and the Toyota Way at a small, local bookstore in Tokyo.

Maybe that's why they are so zealous about materials and networks are abundant there.  Should I get someone to start translating these books??

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crazy Greenbelt Ideas

Every Greenbelt class is unique and interesting, because the participants create a specific look and feel as a result of the class chemistry, group projects and the "movie theme" they've chosen.  (Each Greenbelt class is responsible for creating a video summary of their entire experience, usually following some kind of TV or movie theme).

I happened to be cleaning up some photos and came across this photo, which was a photo of the in-house Greenbelt we did for an organization where the class chose Super Heroes as the theme.  Check out the costumes!

Quote of the day

"If we can improve something - anything - by any amount, then we are making a difference to someone's life.  What really matters is that we are making a difference everyday, all the time, no matter how small."

David Chao

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wallpaper of the week

Here's another wallpaper for this week..... "Go Transform the World"!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Toyota Studies Magnesium Battery as Lithium Alternate

Source: Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest seller of hybrid autos, said it’s developing a magnesium battery that holds twice the energy of lithium-ion cells as automakers seeks better ways to power electric cars.

The company’s technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is working on the magnesium-sulfur battery, complementing development of other future electric-power chemistries at Toyota labs in Japan, Jeffrey Makarewicz, the engineer managing the U.S. project, said in an interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“Going from nickel-metal hydride to lithium ion, you essentially double the energy capacity,” he said. “Lithium ion theoretically, under ideal conditions, has a capacity of about 2,000 kilowatt hours. That’s still not enough to really make a very competitive battery that’s necessary for future plug-in, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.”

Vehicles with magnesium batteries or alternative materials may be ready by about 2020, Makarewicz said. Toyota is working on such technologies as Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co. in the past month have released rechargeable models with lithium-ion packs that let drivers go extended distances on battery power alone.

Nissan wants its Leaf to be the world’s top-selling all- electric car, aiming for annual global sales of at least 500,000 battery-powered cars including Leaf and models from affiliate Renault SA within the next few years.

‘More Modest’ Demand

Toyota expects “much more modest” U.S. demand for battery-only vehicles during that period because of power-pack limitations, Bob Carter, the Toyota City, Japan-based company’s U.S. group vice president, said in an interview today in Detroit.

The automaker’s U.S. unit, based in Torrance, California, is also looking at aluminum and calcium as potential battery materials, Makarewicz said. In Japan, company engineers are researching “lithium air and metal air” batteries, he said, without elaborating.

Toyota’s American depositary receipts rose 6 cents to $82.52 at 1:48 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Greenbelt for Operations Kickoff

It's time for the Greenbelt Program kick-off once again. This class is the largest Greenbelt class we've had in years, due to tremendous demand from both local and international companies looking to strengthen their operation through our certification program.

37 people joined our first day at the Greenbelt for Operations program, designed to create world-class lean leaders in the areas of operations and manufacturing.  Next month, we will be launching the Greenbelt for Service, which is catered to companies that are not in the manufacturing sector.

The class will continue throughout the week to complete the first of three modules required in our Greenbelt program.

Best wishes to all of our Greenbelt students!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The future of cars

Source: CNN

It's conventional wisdom in the auto industry, but the rest of us may be a bit shocked to find out that cars of the future likely will drive themselves.

In some ways, they already are.

A $100,000 car from Mercedes aims to give the human foot a rest in traffic jams. It senses how far away other cars are -- and then speeds up and slows down accordingly. No need to turn off cruise control and hit the brake. You just steer. (Wired Magazine, which tested the car, called this a "magically scary experience.")

And tech companies are pushing car automation even further.

In October, Google announced it had developed a fleet of cars that use various sensors and maps to feel out the roadway. "They've driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research," the company said on its blog.

The latest edition in this trend comes from General Motors, which showed off a self-driving car last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The EN-V (pronounced "envy" and short for "Electric Networked Vehicle") combines two ideas about how to teach cars to drive -- using sensors like cameras and sonar to keep the car from hitting pedestrians; and network technology that lets cars talk to each other.

This "car internet" lets the cars link up wirelessly and follow one another in a sort of wirelessly linked train. If one EN-V needed to pull out of the line, it could.

The pod-like cars, which are just prototypes for now (GM says they could be on the market by 2030 at a cost of $10,000), look somewhat like large scuba-diver helmets, or smushed dust busters. They roll on two wheels, which are aligned like the front two wheels of a car, not like a bicycle. GM partnered with Segway, maker of those futuristic-looking transporters, to create technology that allows the car to balance.

"It's basically a dynamically balanced skateboard," said Chris Borroni-Bird, GM's director of advanced technology vehicle concepts.

The EN-V runs on battery power and plugs into a wall -- giving it a max speed of about 30 miles per hour and a range of about 30 miles. That's not far or fast, but it's enough to make the EN-V useful for cutting down congestion in urban settings, particularly high-density cities in China and India, Borroni-Bird said.

The car also aims to improve safety, since human drivers don't have a sterling record on that front. An estimated 1.3 million people die in traffic-related accidents each year, according to the World Health Organization.

The EN-Vs are just as wide as they are tall, measuring 5 feet cubed. Two people fit inside comfortably, but there's not much room for anything else. A bubble of glass sits close in front of the driver's face. "You can probably pack 5 or 6 times as many of these EN-Vs in a parking lot as you could conventional cars," Borroni-Bird said.

Even though the cars can communicate with each other and drive themselves, drivers can take control if they choose. That's important, Borroni-Bird said, both for safety reasons and so drivers can get some sense of enjoyment from the vehicle.

Drivers use a joystick of sorts to steer and throttle the vehicle, which can spin in place and accelerates rather quickly.

Still, Borroni-Bird says, there are a number of obstacles that need to be hurdled before something like the EN-V hits the market.

The wireless signals that let the vehicles communicate are problematic because hackers, in theory, could access them and send cars off track; and because a lost wireless connection could cause the automated system to lose control of the car.

"It's one thing if a computer goes down, but it's another thing if it happens here," he said.

But he sees a bright future for the concept.

"For the last 100 years the car really hasn't changed in a fundamental sense," he said.

Self-driving cars may buck that trend.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Interesting facts about Steve Jobs

Here's an interesting fact about Steve Jobs that you might not be aware of....maybe his desire to contribute to the firm (vs "taking away" millions of compensation like other CEOs) is one reason why they are so successful.

Take a look at this article.

via Associated Press

NEW YORK – Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs' compensation package remained the usual $1 in fiscal 2010, but the value of the shares he owns has skyrocketed amid the company's ongoing success with introducing shiny new gadgets many people come to find indispensible.
Apple said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday it paid a salary of $1 to Jobs, who rejoined the company in 1997 and has overseen the company's explosive growth following the launch of the iPod, the iPhone and now the iPad.
As is customary, Jobs got no bonus or perks during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 25, 2010. Apple said it reimbursed Jobs $248,000 for company travel on his personal jet, a $90 million Gulfstream V he received as a bonus in 1999. This is well above the $4,000 Apple reimbursed its CEO in 2009, when Jobs was on medical leave for nearly six months.
Jobs, however, holds 5.5 million of Apple's shares, which gained about 60 percent in value during the fiscal year and have continued to rise since. Apple's shares closed at $333.73 on Thursday, bringing the value of Jobs' personal holdings to $1.84 billion.
The company's net income jumped 70 percent in fiscal 2010 to $14 billion, on revenue of $65.2 billion, an increase of 52 percent from a year earlier thanks to strong demand for its personal gadgets and Mac computers.
Jobs, 55, has not sold any shares since he rejoined the company in 1997 following a 12-year hiatus. He has not been awarded any new equity since 2003 and is currently its largest individual shareholder. His annual salary has been $1 since 1998.
Top Apple executives, including Jobs, are employed at will, without severance or employment agreements, tax reimbursements or supplemental retirement benefits. The company also does not provide perks to the executives other than those available to non-executive employees, according to the filing.
Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, however, received a special $5 million bonus and restricted stock award in 2010 for what Apple called his "outstanding performance" during Jobs' medical leave in the first half of 2009, when he took over his day-to-day duties.
Only Jobs gets the $1 salary. But the compensation for Cook, who essentially makes the trains run on time at Apple, is set higher than other top executives to reflect his additional duties as COO. In 2010, this amounted to $59.1 million including the special bonus and restricted stock, based on the Associated Press' calculation.
The Associated Press compensation calculation includes salary, bonus, performance-related bonuses, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

LSI Wallpaper

Each week, we will be uploading a wallpaper you can use throughout 2011.  Here's one created from a photo I took at the Lamborghini headquarters in Italy. The Lamborghini supersports car was actually hanging on the wall of the museum!  By the way, LSI is organizing a trip to Germany and Italy to visit Porsche and Lamborghini this year in May as part of our Executive Program.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Greenbelt, Blackbelt and Executive Programs

LSI has a very busy 2011, with many programs being launched almost immediately.  We are excited to offer more lean programs than any other firms in Canada.

Here are some video clips that summarize our three top programs:

Greenbelt Program - intermediate program which offers hands-on lean experience through three modules

Blackbelt Program - advanced lean program that focus on lean strategy and enterprise-wide waste reduction through four module which includes a trip to Japan

Executive Program - a la carte program that provides decision makers and managers various ways to learn lean from the basic to advanced levels (one example of Exec Program shown below: our most popular Lean Problem Solving)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

Creativity is the "engine" that drives people forward, and this is expecially true of the lean journey.  Without creativity and imagination, ideas simply die out and the passion for lean is not sustained.

When was the last time your organization encouraged or emphasized creativity and imagination over methodology or tools?  When was the last time you allowed yourself to think "out of the box"  and develop some nifty ideas - even crazy ones - that resulted in spectacular results?

As always, LSI delivers programs and courses that are filled with ideas and imagination (those crazy ice breakers we play!), but this year, we are going to "kick it up a notch".  The theme for the next few months is "Expect the Unexpected" - so both LSI and participants will be encouraged to engage their creative side a bit more and surprise each other with amazing thoughts and ideas.  Are you up for a challenge?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

May 2011 bring new ideas, new thoughts, and a new mindset, while
revitalizing our passion to make a difference in the world. I pray that
everyone will have a renewed sense of love and dedication to make 2011 brighter
and more meaningful than ever. Let's make a difference in people's lives
and transform the world around us! Happy New Year!!