Just a Little Bit

7 May 2008 at 3:16 pm 2 comments

The New Yorker magazine this week carries the theme The Innovation Issue and although I haven’t finished it yet, there are already two pieces that have captured my attention. The first is by the magazine’s regular financial/economic reporter James Surowiecki, titled “The Open Secret of Success”. It’s a short, sharp little overview of Toyota’s much analyzed, widely copied production systems.

The ostensible reason for taking another look at something that has seemingly been studied to death, is the news that Toyota appears to have finally stopped G.M’s seventy-seven year run of selling more cars than any other company in the world. And while Surowiecki dutifully recounts the history behind Toyota’s production system, he reserves most of his praise for the company’s kaizen or “continuous improvement” approach. 

He writes “[Toyota] rejects the idea that innovation is province of an elect few; instead it’s taken for an everyday task for which everyone is responsible…Toyota implements a million new ideas a year…Most of these ideas are small-making parts on a shelf easier to reach, say-and not all of them work. But cumulatively, everyday, Toyota knows a little more and does things a little better than it did the day before.”

I love that last line! Because I think it’s such a fundamental, yet often overlooked, reward of running a business. Every day you learn, every day you apply what you’ve learned and every day you and your business are a little bit more knowledgeable, a little bit more skilled, a little bit more difficult to compete against. It’s not a lesson for only huge multi-national companies, it’s a lesson for everyone.

Check out the entire article available on The New Yorker website. Tomorrow’s post will be tie in another aspect of this article with the second piece in the issue I admired.

Entry filed under: Experience Enhancement, Innovation, Marketing. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • […] kaizen, the Japanese technique of small, incremental improvements, that just mentioned in a previous post on innovation. But this article focuses more on how to make changes in your thinking and your way of approaching […]

  • 2. Take A Fresh Look « DesignBiz Rx Weblog  |  22 May 2008 at 3:06 pm

    […] particularly interesting. The first, which dealt with the Japanese principle of kaizen, can be read here, but now let’s turn to the second article, which is based on the theory that big ideas […]


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May 2008

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