May, 2019 – Laurie Fiorica and Hilary Hellman attended Japan Study Trip and Lean Immersion with KBJ Anderson Consulting. See Itinerary here. Meet our trip guide, Katie Anderson. See our fellow attendees (, Tracy ORourke, Trish Hackemack, MaryBeth Jermyn, Hilary Hellman, Laurie Fiorica, Jacqueline Riphenburg, Rachael Blomeley, Tara Swarts, & Elske Heeren ,, Chris Dempsey, Juan Manuel Jordan, Sergio Vergara, and Jim Alvarez ). Highlights included: tours of Toyota, Ina Foods with Chairman Mr. Tsukakoshi and his book “Tree Ring Management”, Isuzu Steel (Toyotal Tier 3 Supplier) Tsuda Elementary School, Ashikaga Red Cross Hospital with Dr. Satoru Komatsumoto, President of Ashikaga Red Cross Hospital, Ogura Metal with Ms Noriko Ogura, head of the Ogura Plant, and Mifune (Toyota Tier 2 Supplier). We also heard from Mr. Teruo Yabe – former President of the Tessei Shinkansen Cleaning Company (picture above) with station tour and observation of the 7-Minute Miracle; Ms. Toshiko Kawanami – a female executive from Japan; and Mr. Isao Yoshino, a Toyota Manager and coach.

It is a small world. . . .I knew MaryBeth from Eastman Kodak days and her husband from grammer school (although, he didn’t remember me) and Elisabeth Swan was an instructor for the class “Kodak Delivers What Customers Want”, which was a great simulation.

The trip was inspiring, tiring, and rejuvenating.  The restrooms were pretty cool too.

Several key and fun takeaways:

  1. Companies that care and focus on their people are successful companies
  2. Sending employees on a trip once per year was specifically intended to expose them to other cultures, experiences, and people
  3. The Toyota factory was even cooler than I thought and so advanced based up[on such simplicity it is mind boggling
  4. Push your chair in when you leave the table
  5. Meal time and cleaning time are teaching times.  Cleaning and being responsible for your classrooms and hallways teaches respect for your environment, manners, and accountability.  Participating in preparation and clean-up for meal times does the same.
  6. Humility is not only a person, it can be central to a country and its culture
  7. The bathrooms in Japan are technological wonders, clean, mistake proofed, and easy for people to maintain its good condition
  8. I only like certain types of Japanese food, and not Miso Soup for breakfast, for lunch, or for dinner, for that matter
  9. There is no reason America can’t compete in manufacturing
  10. Vending machines can be on the street, untouched, without graffiti
  11. We can teach our kids manners just as we can expect it of our employees

Katie is doing two trips in 2020.  Check it out.