A Conversation with Facundo Gonzalez and Jorge Anschutz, founders of TAHO Consulting and Initiators of the Japanese Management Experience (JAME) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
This is an Interview series on Lean Transformation & Lean Culture, created by Noventa Consulting.
In Lean transformations, the soft-factors, such as culture and leadership are often underestimated. Lean is a philosophy, and therefore much more than a toolbox. The purpose of this interview series is to start a discussion about Lean culture with Lean leaders and Lean experts across the planet.
Marcel Bamert: How did you start your Lean Journey?
Facundo Gonzalez: I got introduced to the Japanese way of working and Management when I started working for Toyota Motor Corporation in Argentina in 2000. I worked for Toyota Argentina for 11 years. I met Jorge during my time at Toyota.
Jorge and I started thinking about how we could bring the Japanese Management model to Argentina? We decided to build a consulting company with the purpose to help organizations in South America to become better by implementing the Japanese Management Model.
After 11 years at Toyota, I understood the perfect balance between process improvement and developing people. People development is the most potent theme in Lean. If you want to improve processes, you cannot leave-out the aspects of people development, and thinking about people development, you cannot neglect process improvement. Lean Management is not a toolbox; it’s a model of Leadership. You cannot manage people without developing and empowering them. Without coaching and leadership, it’s not possible to become and stay a Lean company.
At Toyota, I had the opportunity to see Lean Management in action at production sites in Thailand, Japan, Brazil, and Argentina. Despite of the cultures being so different, the Lean philosophy works.
Jorge Anschutz: I was working at a power plant in Spain. We hired McKinsey to implement Lean. There was a lot of misunderstanding of Lean. Reading the Lean literature, I saw that there was much more to Lean than just the tools. Each book I read confused me. That’s when I met Facundo, and we started to share our Lean experiences and lessons learned. For me today it’s still a learning journey. When I went to Japan for the first time, I learned about the Japanese culture, not just about the ways of working at Toyota. Lean is much more than what you see at the surface. In the beginning, Lean was not taught in the right way. Becoming a Lean enterprise is a long journey, primarily because of the misunderstanding of the importance that culture plays. Sometimes I’m like a missionary, going from company to company to promote Lean. Our clients usually give us a feedback after the first week working with them, that they have never learned about Lean in this way. Most other experts only talk about the tools. There are many skills necessary to be an excellent Lean consultant; it’s a complex and holistic approach.
Marcel Bamert: What is the vision of TAHO?
Jorge Anschutz: We offer a Top Management Development program called Japanese Management Experience (JAME) for Senior Managers in South America.
With TAHO we are in an era of expansion. We are developing our company while maintaining our service level. We are carefully selecting our consultants to maintain our company culture and service excellence. We invest in developing consultants that live our holistic approach.
We apply the model of Jeff Liker. You gain the in-depth understanding of the Lean principles by doing and not by studying. Our customers are industrial companies as well as service organizations. There is a tremendous demand for our services in the finance industry. All Banks are currently talking about transformation and digitalization.
Facundo Gonzalez: We help our clients to understand the principles and how to adapt them to their organization and culture. We observe that people tend to copy Lean tools without understanding the underlying principles.
Jorge Anschutz: We know all the tools, but we don’t talk about them. We focus on how we can help our customers to gain strength. We show them that they have good values and principles and show that they are not using them. It’s all tied in with the 14 principles of the Liker Model. We love how well Liker has understood the Toyota way.
Facundo Gonzalez: After working for Toyota for so many years, Liker has shown how the Japanese way of management is. Jeff Liker understands how Toyota went from a difficult situation to become the world’s best car maker.
Marcel Bamert: What are the characteristics of a great Lean consultant?
Jorge Anschutz: Our consultants need to understand organizations as a complex system. They further need the understanding the 14 principles of the Liker philosophy, in concept and practice. He must be an excellent coach to build teams. How to explain Lean to somebody who has not seen anything of Lean. How can you change their behaviors? Coaching is most important and how he can create effective teams. How to motivate them.
Facundo Gonzalez: We understand the consultancy not to do the work of the customers, but to coach the people of the customers so that they can find their solutions. This is the starting point of the consultant role. The best solution is the solutions that grow in the customer company. Sometimes it is difficult to sell this approach to companies because they want to buy a solution and not to create it.
Our company name TAHO stands for Team of advisors who are helping organizations. We help them we don’t do the work for them.
Marcel Bamert: Who were your Lean mentors?
- Jeff liker: Author of the bestselling book “The Toyota Way.”
- Tomio Katsuta: started the Toyota Motor Corporation in Argentina.
Marcel Bamert: Thank you for your valuable insights on how TAHO is helping organizations to lead change. At Noventa Consulting we have similar core values and beliefs as TAHO. We work according to the philosophy that a successful Lean transformation only happens if we build an engaging company culture. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” a quote by the late Peter Drucker, highlights the importance of culture. Our premise is to empower our clients to embed a continuous improvement culture. By creating a link between the company’s purpose, the key priorities, the operational task, the improvement activities, and the Shopfloor Management we achieve a successful transformation, in collaboration with our client organizations.
- TAHO: http://www.taho.com.ar/
- Japanese Management Experience: http://jame.com.ar/
- Jeff Liker, Professor at the University of Michigan: https://liker.engin.umich.edu/
- Liker Lean Advisors: http://www.likerleanadvisors.com/