A wealth of books, articles and consulting firms present reams of information about the Toyota Production System (TPS), the much-vaunted production approach developed by the Japanese automaker to produce quality automobiles at competitive prices. It's an approach that clearly has worked for Toyota, and one that many U.S. manufacturers have attempted to emulate, with varying degrees of success.
Far less material exists regarding the Toyota product development system -- until recently. Among the new books tackling this topic is "The Toyota Product Development System: Integrating People, Process, and Technology" (2006, Productivity Press), written by Jeffrey K. Liker, author of the best-selling "The Toyota Way," and James M. Morgan, who has more than 24 years of experience in automotive product development.
The co-authors describe Toyota's product development system as "just as profound and powerful" as its production system. "The company consistently develops higher quality vehicles faster, for less cost, and at a greater profit than its competitors," they note. "It also launches more new vehicles annually than most of its competitors."
How does Toyota do it? This book explores how, presenting both the big picture and providing great detail. It describes the "chief engineer system" Toyota employs and discusses product development value stream mapping. It speaks to culture change and design technology. It's also rife with examples and case studies.