Title: Lean habits

Authors: Kurt Hozak; Eric O. Olsen

Addresses: Department of Management and Decision Sciences, E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration, Coastal Carolina University, 119 Chanticleer Drive East, Conway, South Carolina 29526, USA ' Orfalea College of Business, Cal Poly State University, 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA

Abstract: This conceptual paper develops insights about how organisations can more effectively use lean to achieve operational excellence by forming and applying habits in the manner of the lean exemplar, Toyota. It synthesises the psychological literature from the best-selling book The Power of Habit (Duhigg, 2012) with leading research about Toyota's operations. Our exploratory study shows how Toyota combines cues, routines, and rewards into habit loops that are culturally ingrained. Toyota uses keystone habits for coaching, willpower, and improvement to support and drive other habits and operationalise its fundamental principles. These people-focused keystone habits capture the essence of lean and enable attainment of the two pillars of the Toyota Way: continuous improvement and respect for people. The keystone habits facilitate lean tools (e.g., kanban) being used for improvement in addition to their overt purposes and give employees distinctive capabilities to persist and adapt.

Keywords: lean habits; habit loops; lean psychology; behavioural operations; Toyota Production System; TPS; Toyota Way; continuous improvement; respect for people; coaching; operational excellence; lean manufacturing; routines; lean thinking; mentoring.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBEX.2019.102828

International Journal of Business Excellence, 2019 Vol.19 No.3, pp.305 - 322

Received: 15 Feb 2018
Accepted: 12 Jul 2018

Published online: 24 Sep 2019 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article