Toyota Legacy Under Threat...

How both Improvement initiatives to achieve Operational Excellence and Innovation is required to achieve longevity... just like Toyota

Toyota Legacy Under Threat...

by Dr Andrew M Connery, 10 November 2017

Most practitioners are well aware of the founding role of the Toyota Production System in the Business Improvement movement.

There is seemingly not a single aspect, principle or tool that does not directly link back to the legendary auto manufacturer’s core ideas and thoughts on achieving Operational Excellence in the Manufacturing sector.

However, I believe there is another core car-making concept, originally conceived by Alfred P Sloan the long-time President of General Motors nearly 100 years ago, that should also be considered along side Toyota’s major contributions.

Consider this for a moment. If Business Improvement was the sole approach to manufacturing then (to use a vehicle metaphor) we would all still be driving Model T Fords … albeit with automatic transmissions, choice of colours, seat belts etc.

GM originally introduced the Annual Model Change in 1923. They had the foresight to appreciate the travelling public was actually seeking novelty and innovation in their chosen forms of transport and realised that if they just continued to produce an incrementally better car each year there would be a physical limit to the number of new vehicles they could sell.

The rest is history, as they say. 

Of course Toyota continues to be a leading carmaker globally and #1 in sales numbers here in Australia … but (I would emphasise) with new models coming on to the market at regular intervals!

CTPM have been at the forefront of Business Improvement training for SMEs in Australia since 1996 however we have become conscious that with an ever-increasingly dynamic and globalised marketplace, Business Improvement (which is a well proven vehicle to deliver Operational Excellence within business boundaries) needs to be supplemented with an approach that develops new ideas and opportunities outside the usual boundaries.

Since early 2017 in my role as Director of Innovation, I have been conducting applied research as the basis for developing an approach addressing this challenge. We call this approach 360 Enterprise Innovation which involves challenging the current boundaries of an enterprise and using the hidden talent of your people to identify and justify exciting opportunities.

If you would like to learn more about CTPM - The Centre for Australasian TPM & Lean, and our new 360 Enterprise Innovation approach, contact myself Dr Andrew Connery, Director of Innovation at