Become a Learning Organization

The fourteenth principle of the Toyota Way is:

Become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement.

Toyota is an outstanding learning organization because it sees standardization and innovation as two sides of the same coin, melding them in a way that creates great continuity.

It is one thing for individual employees to come up with innovative ways to do things. But to be transferred to organization learning, the new way must be standardized and practiced across the organization until a better way is discovered. This is the Toyota Way of learning — standardization punctuated by innovation, which gets translated into new standards.

The philosophy of Toyota and its experience support the belief that if it focuses on the process itself and continual improvement, it will achieve the financial results it desires. Continuous improvement can occur only after a process is stable and standardized. When you make processes stable and have a process to make waste and inefficiencies publicly visible, you have an opportunity to learn continually from your improvements.

Use “reflection” at key milestones and after you finish a project to openly identify all the shortcomings of the project. Develop countermeasures to avoid the same mistakes again.

Summing-up: No organization is perfect – there is always room to get better. But with improvement and imperfection comes learning.

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