Did Toyota Learn From Seneca?

#17 — June 9th — Solve Problems Early

If you allow it to get started you won’t be able to control when it stops.
 — Seneca, Moral Letters, 106.2b-3a

Todays meditation reminded me of my previous work, and specifically the 5th principle of The Toyota Way: “Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time”.

Jidoka (自働化?) is a quality control process that applies the following four principles:

  1. Detect the abnormality
  2. Stop
  3. Fix or correct the immediate condition
  4. Investigate the root cause and install a countermeasure
Rivers are easiest to cross at their source
 — Publilius Syrus

In summary — Fix problems early and prevent them from reoccuring to minimise cost. If you wait to fix problems later, it will be much more expensive.

Cross that stream now, when its small and before it turns into rapids.

Which would you rather do — nearly drown in a dangerous crossing in a few weeks or cross now while its still easy?