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Every December the man in the red suit delivers cheer and presents to millions of happy children around the world. It seems like magic, but a closer observation of Santa’s behavior demonstrates that Santa actually employed critical elements of TPS philosophy long before Toyota itself did. For example,
Shotaro Kamiya, Toyota’s first president of sales, hired away from Nippon GM in 1935, championed a new idea at Toyota: “The customer comes first, the dealer second, and the manufacturer third.” Kamiya’s “Customer First” philosophy was revolutionary for Toyota and bedrock in the philosophy.
Yet, as can be seen from this
documentaryfootage of Mr. Claus, Santa was abiding by this ideal many years earlier. His chagrin, when asked to “push” toys that were slow movers, indicates St. Nick’s abhorrence for speculative production also known as overproduction. After all, the Christmas list was the original Kanban. Without this pull system, Santa’s elves would, like many manufacturers, always be very busy building the wrong things; and Santa would have to leave backorder notes under the tree on Christmas morning. As for standardization, anyone familiar with Norad’s Santa tracker will attest to his standardized conveyance route. And Oh! What a Takt time for the jolly old elf! I have to admit that despite my enduring admiration for Toyota’s Production System, none other than Santa Claus is the penultimate just-in-time provider. Thank you, Santa.
To everyone else, ho ho ho. Have a restful and happy holiday. Gratitude.