Date of Award

1-12-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Communications (M.S.)

Department

School of Communications

Abstract

The Toyota Motor Corporation is one of the top automobile manufacturers in the world and behind its success is the Toyota Production System (TPS). TPS is a philosophy based on continuous improvement and eliminating waste in processes and in the space where work is performed. At the center of this philosophy is the emphasis on learning. Although several companies attempt to implement the methods and tools of TPS, many do not understand the learning organization culture that must be developed to support it.

This case study reveals the needs of Herman Miller, Inc., an American office furniture manufacturer, as it continues to implement TPS, subsequently named by Herman Miller as the Herman Miller Production System (HMPS). Through literature, online research, interviews with Herman Miller employees, workshop attendance, and a tour of a plant that has been practicing TPS since 1996, the author concluded that many factors are essential to building and sustaining a learning organization at Herman Miller. These factors include: implementing a standard method of communication regarding HMPS throughout the organization, encouraging supervisors to commit to the HMPS philosophy while becoming knowledgeable of employee work processes, systematically reporting the changes in standardized work of the surrounding production lines, continuously enabling employees to make changes in how they work, and building trust between employees and company leadership.

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