Ohno Case Study

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IBS Center for Management Research (2004)
Toyota's production system has been one of the most studied systems in the field of production and operations management. The core elements of the system, like JIT (just-in-time), Kaizen and Kanban were emulated by several other organisations around the world, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Taiichi Ohno was the architect of the TPS (Toyota production system) and was generally acknowledged as the father of 'lean manufacturing', which was the western adaptation of the TPS. The case discusses the various elements of TPS and the role played by Ohno in the design and implementation of the system. Concepts like JIT, Kaizen, Kanban, and Jidoka are discussed in detail. The case also studies the benefits Toyota obtained from the TPS, as well as the main challenges in implementing the system. It concludes with a study of the applications of the TPS in other companies and the role that it is likely to play in the future of manufacturing. The teaching objectives of the case are: (1) to study the elements of the production system of a large and highly successful car manufacturer; (2) to study the concept and application of tools like JIT, Kanban, Kaizen, and Jidoka and their role in production management; (3) to appreciate the importance of the human element in the design and operation of production systems; (4) to understand the challenges faced in the implementation of production systems; (5) to examine the differences between the Japanese industrial culture and that of western economies; and (6) to examine the future of manufacturing and production systems. The case is meant for MBA/PGDBM students and is intended to be part of the production and operations management curriculum.
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Taiichi Ohno(大野耐一,Ōno Taiichi, February 29, 1912 – May 28, 1990) was a Japanese industrial engineer and businessman. He is considered to be the father of the Toyota Production System, which became Lean Manufacturing in the U.S. He devised the seven wastes (or muda in Japanese) as part of this system. He wrote several books about the system, including Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production.

Born in 1912 in Dalian, China, and a graduate of the Nagoya Technical High School (Japan), he joined the Toyoda family's Toyoda Spinning upon graduation in 1932 during the Great Depression thanks to the relations of his father to Kiichiro Toyoda, the son of Toyota's founding father Sakichi Toyoda.[1] He moved to the Toyota motor company in 1943 where he worked as a shop-floor supervisor in the engine manufacturing shop of the plant, and gradually rose through the ranks to become an executive. In what is considered to be a slight, possibly because he spoke publicly about the production system, he was denied the normal executive track and was sent instead to consult with suppliers in his later career.[citation needed]

Ohno's principles influenced areas outside of manufacturing, and have been extended into the service arena. For example, the field of sales process engineering has shown how the concept of Just In Time (JIT) can improve sales, marketing, and customer service processes.[2][3]

Ohno was also instrumental in developing the way organisations identify waste, with his "Seven Wastes" model which have become core in many academic approaches.[4] These wastes are:

1. Delay, waiting or time spent in a queue with no value being added
2. Producing more than you need
3. Over processing or undertaking non-value added activity
4. Transportation
5. Unnecessary movement or motion
6. Inventory
7. Reduction of Defects

Ohno is also known for his "Ten Precepts" to think and act to win.[5]

  1. You are a cost. First reduce waste.
  2. First say, "I can do it." And try before everything.
  3. The workplace is a teacher. You can find answers only in the workplace.
  4. Do anything immediately. Starting something right now is the only way to win.
  5. Once you start something, persevere with it. Do not give up until you finish it.
  6. Explain difficult things in an easy-to-understand manner. Repeat things that are easy to understand.
  7. Waste is hidden. Do not hide it. Make problems visible.
  8. Valueless motions are equal to shortening one's life.
  9. Re-improve what was improved for further improvement.
  10. Wisdom is given equally to everybody. The point is whether one can exercise it.

See also[edit]

Published works[edit]

  • Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  • Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Workplace Management, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-19-4
  • Ohno, Taiichi (2007), Workplace Management. Translated by Jon Miller, Gemba Press, ISBN 978-0-9786387-5-7, ISBN 0-9786387-5-1


  1. ^Ohno, Taiichi (1988). Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production (English translation ed.). Portland, Oregon: Productivity Press. pp. 75–76. ISBN 0-915299-14-3. 
  2. ^Selden, Paul H (1997). Sales Process Engineering: A Personal Workshop. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press. pp. 113–120. 
  3. ^Emiliani, Bob; Stec, David; Grasso, Lawrence; Stodder, James (2007). Better thinking, better results: case study and analysis of an enterprise-wide lean transformation (2nd ed.). Kensington, Conn: Center for Lean Business Management. ISBN 978-0-9722591-2-5. 
  4. ^Dumas, Marlon; La Rosa, Marcello; Mendling, Jan; Reijers, Hajo A. (2013). Fundamentals of Business Process Management. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-3-642-33143-5. 
  5. ^"What every LEAN COACH should know and teach -- Ohno's Precepts". 2016-07-05. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 


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