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Toyota’s Lesson for Project Managers

If you're a project manager and you're looking for some inspiration, this post from Reforming Project Management suggests taking a long look at Toyota. Toyota understands (or more appropriately, accepts) that their company is built on the people who do the work it requires, and they make sure to operate their organization with that understanding in mind: 

However, recent mistakes made by Toyota, resulting in the recall of certain vehicles, are where the lesson really takes shape. Toyota recognizes that mistakes happen, but do not choose to allow mistakes to hinder business: 

Unlike the vast majority of firms, Toyota's management approach goes to great lengths to rapidly discover mistakes without diminishing the creativity of the workforce. They couple rapid problem-solving with everyday kaizen. They implore managers to “go and see” for yourself with the role manager-as-teacher. The Lexus and Prius were born in the spirit of “no compromises” in customer experiences while meeting aggressive market pricing. These are remarkable pairings that bring out the best in people while attempting to prevent defects from escaping.

The lesson for project managers is as simple as it is a mind-shift: mistakes will happen, and the problem caused by those mistakes isn't  necessarily that they happened at all, but how quickly you and your team are able to absorb the lessons brought forward by the mistake, and how quickly you can respond to them. This promotes a willingness to discuss mistakes as soon as they are recognized, limiting damage done and expanding the involvement of the whole team in quality management. 

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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