Friday, March 10, 2006

Toyota's Five Why's

Toyota is one of the industry leaders known both for its quality and revenues. It's quality system was being built for decades and quite often the quality of the cars was by an order of magnitude better, than what, say, it's US competitors had to offer.

There are few simple principles behind the Toyota quality system. Here are two of them:
  • Built-in-quality
    Quality is not something that is added at the end of the production line. Every major robot that works on the car parts has sensors and intelligence to recognize defects early and either fix them or remove the detail from the line.
  • Toyota's five why's
    Whenever the problem occurred, the engineers ask why. Once they identified the factors that led to it, they investigate the reasons for these factors to happen. This process is repeated until no new information is forthcoming. Usually five levels of investigation is enough, therefore the technique is called "five why's"
Could the Toyota methods be applied in our industry? Early defect discovery and through investigation of the root cause should help producing astonishingly reliable programs. But wouldn't it cost too much? Is it economically feasible? Do we have time to fix all these bugs?

Does it pay off? - Ask Toyota.

P.S.
Thanks to Lasse Koskela for the idea of this post

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