Principles For Work

Photo by Jean van der Meulen on

Taiichi Ohno was an industrial engineer and business man at Toyota from the 1940’s to the 1990. His goal was to make sure Toyota was able to produce cars with no defects, improve production speeds to match the output of American manufacturing, and to ensure Toyota had enough money to continue running as a business. Today, Toyota is leader in vehicle output each year and their cars hold value better than anything else on the market.

Needless to say, Ohno was a big part of what made Toyota tick. His rules for work have inspired countless founders, executives, engineers, and business owners across the world.

Here are his “Ten precepts to think act and win”

  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.

Note the order the go in. The first five precepts are self focused. The sixth precept gets into communication with others. It’s also why phrases like, “run up stairs” are painted on the walls of startup companies. The ninth introduces the cyclical nature problem solving. The tenth recognizes that no matter how much you give someone, they cannot change without their own buy in.

Ohno was beyond his time in his thinking. The ball is in our court to stand on his shoulders, see further, do better, and exercise his wisdom.

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