/Developing lean thinkers – Lessons from Toyota

Developing lean thinkers – Lessons from Toyota

Shook and Yoshino on people development at Toyota

VIDEO – In this video from the recent European Lean Educator Conference, John Shook and Isao Yoshino draw on their experience at Toyota to reflect on the development of lean thinkers.

Intro: Joakim Hillberg, Revere AB

Conversation between: John Shook, Chairman, Lean Global Network and Isai Yoshino, Lecturer at Nagoya Gakuin University

Photo by Joseph Rey Au; courtesy of Toyota

John Shook and his former mentor Isao Yoshino first met at NUMMI in the 1980s, when Toyota had its first venture in the United States. Through NUMMI, the organization wanted to develop people outside Japan to achieve fantastic results in the US – and they succeeded. Isao was the person driving the training of Americans in Japan and John Shook the first American employed to support him. But what would John and Isao have done differently at NUMMI? 

This is only one of the many topics the two recently discussed in Braga, Portugal at the European Lean Educator Conference. As I facilitated this discussion, I couldn’t help but think of the many opportunities that lean thinking can still afford us… and of all the things we still have to learn about it.

Some in the business improvement world wonder whether or not we should still care about this old Toyota stuff, citing Agile as the “new thing”. Interestingly enough, we recently had the pleasure to have Isao at a seminar in Stockholm, which was attended by a lot of experienced Agile folks. They all agreed that Agile has its roots in lean thinking, and were in fact able to get many important insights from Isao – the most important one perhaps being that lean is about developing people and not implementing tools (still the prevalent approach in the Agile world). Lean thinking still has a lot to give the world!

Ok, I won’t share any more spoilers from the discussion between John and Isao. Instead, I will let you enjoy it in this video:

The European Lean Educator Conference brings together academia, organizations and consultants with the aim of understanding together how to best learn and teach lean thinking.

This year, ELEC will be hosted by Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy on November 12-13. Stay tuned for announcements on speakers and program.  


Joakim Hillberg photograph

Joakim Hillberg has experience with lean since over 25 years. Together with his colleague Pia their main focus is helping organizations achieve results by building competence and capability of people. They do this by integrating training, transformation and situational coaching. They were quite early to work with lean in other areas than industry and have been involved in areas such as healthcare, media, IT, service, public sector in more than 15 countries.