This paper asserts that problem identification and problem solving processes can be
integrated into work processes by imbedding tests that evaluate system-performance.
are imbedded in individual work activities, in the connections that link those who provide a
product, service, or information with those who receive it, and in the overall construction of
pathways over which products, services, and information take their final form.
These tests make
it unambiguous when, where, and by whom problem solving is necessary, and, as an integral part
of collaborative work, these tests help improve processes and deepens process knowledge,
allowing an organization to be increasingly adaptive, both when it experiences operating
difficulties and in determining how to exploit best market opportunities.
These immediate tests
are possible if work designs are specified before work is performed, and these immediate tests
have most value if each indication that a problem has occurred is followed immediately by root-
cause analysis and structured problem solving.
This paper builds upon observations made in the manufacturing sector to draw lessons
applicable to more general management concerns of delegating/task partitioning, coordinating,
and task execution.
This paper shows how the specific tools of the Toyota Production System
(‘TPS’) such as pull-systems, kanban cards, and andon cords are artifacts of a general,
comprehensive approach to managing collaborative work systems that allows frequent, fine-
grained problem identification and improvement in overall organizational structure, coordinative
mechanisms, and task-performance.
Therefore, this paper phrases Toyota’s practices in terms of
solving problems of work delegation, coordination, and execution.
Toyota Production System, Rules-in-Use, organizational design, process improvement
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