August book review: Toyota Talent

Jeffrey Liker and David Meier
Toyota Talent: Developing Your People The Toyota Way

I am leading a product development team at a financial organization. One of my objectives is to create an environment supporting and motivating team members to learn all jobs within the team and continuously improve our work methods. This may not be an easy goal to achieve, but I see a huge value in having team members capable of performing multiple jobs and willing to assume different roles and responsibilities.  

While I was exploring ideas on how to organize training and skill development for our employees, I came across Jeffrey Liker's and David Meier's book describing an approach to training used by Toyota. At Toyota, managers and team leaders are responsible for establishing a teaching environment within their teams. They create development plans for their team members, work closely with the trainers to evaluate the progress and skill level of each individual, and keep an eye on the overall performance indicators.

Jeffrey and David provide excellent ideas on how to identify critical knowledge, analyze and standardize work methods, break down jobs into small pieces for teaching, run training sessions, and follow up to verify the results. Even though the approach described in the book is targeted towards manufacturing, I found it to be applicable (with little adaptation) to product development and engineering. 

Happy reading!

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