(This is part of a series of posts about the 14 Principles of The Toyota Way.)
Yesterday I discussed how a person that can visualize a scenario or concept is valuable – they can go above simply “doing work” by projecting, predicting, extrapolating, explaining, understanding, and selling ideas through connecting concepts that would otherwise be unknown or invisible to the rest of us.
The fact remains that many of us (by “us” I mean “everybody”) are forced to interact with countless others that don’t have that same level of vision, or a different vision all together. That’s okay, but it certainly makes working with others difficult when you’re not on the same page.
Progress will happen when goals are aligned and people work together to solve common objectives. However, the faster those goals are aligned and common ground is discovered, the faster you can get on track toward progress.
Short of cloning one’s self in order to replicate a vision, the best place to start with getting everyone’s objectives aligned is by setting a core group philosophy – somewhat like a mission statement, vision statement, or set of group priorities – and verifying the philosophy is shared, lived, understood, and maintained.
And that’s how we get to Principle #9 of The Toyota Way.
“Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.”
This is one distinct difference between Toyota and nearly every other company – leaders genuinely live the philosophy and have the capability to teach it either by direct methods or by “leading by example.”
When this management philosophy was first being defined at Toyota, the leaders found it was much easier to find future leaders in individuals already in the organization for multiple years and having learned Toyota’s way of doing things than by hiring potential leaders from the outside – the learning curve was far steeper for those who were all together unfamiliar with, well, the Toyota way.
That is considerably different from most companies, who fish for top talent and hope the new catch of employees will adopt the company philosophies (if a philosophy has been defined in the first place). It’s not that these companies will be unsuccessful in growth and prosperity – far from it, in fact – but if the company is focused on building a rock-solid philosophy they would be better served in hiring fresh faces at the front line level and promoting from within after workers have been part of the company philosophy for an extended period of time.