Make decisions slowly by consensus, considering all options; implement rapidly

The thirteenth principle of the Toyota Way is:

Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.

For Toyota, how you arrive at the decision is just as important as the quality of the decision. Taking the time and effort to do it right is mandatory. Do not hastily make a decision without covering all the facts, alternatives and consulting with the people who will be affected with the outcome of the decision.

In fact, management will forgive a decision that does not work out as expected, if the process used was the right one. A decision that by chance works out well, but was based on a shortcut process, is more likely to lead to a reprimand from the boss.

Toyota’s secret to smooth and often flawless implementation of new initiatives is careful, upfront planning. Underlying the entire process of planning, problem solving, and decision making is careful attention to every detail. This process is often used to describe how junior people build consensus by developing a proposal and circulating it broadly for management approval. In this process, many people are giving their input and this generates consensus. By the time the formal proposal comes up for a high-level approval, the decision is already made.

If you’ve got a project that is supposed to be fully implemented in a year, the typical company will spend about three months on planning, then they’ll begin to implement. But they’ll encounter all sorts of problems after implementation, and they’ll spend the rest of the year correcting them. However, given the same year-long project, Toyota will spend nine to 10 months planning, then implement in a small way—such as with pilot production—and be fully implemented at the end of the year, with virtually no remaining problems.

Summing-up: Toyota stands out as the preeminent analyst of strategy and tactics. Nothing is assumed. Everything is verified. The goal is getting it right.

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