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Learning innovation from Toyota

I would to start with a note on elegance, as an introduction to Toyota’s innovation practices. But the best I read on elegance recently comes from Joel on Software. Joel quotes Alain de Botton book on architecture, explaining elegance on example of two bridges:

The bridge is endowed with a subcategory of beauty we can refer to as elegance, a quality present whenever a work of architecture succeeds in carrying out an act of resistance?holding, spanning, sheltering?with grace and economy as well as strength; when it has the modesty not to draw attention to the difficulties it has surmounted.

Back to Toyota’s document: “An elegant solution is one in which the optimal outcome is achieved with the minimal expenditure of effort and expense.”

What links elegance to innovation? ?Simple is better. Elegant is better still (…) Great innovation requires understanding and appreciating the concept of elegance as it relates to solving important problems.?

Toyota practices for creativity:

1. Let Learning Lead
2. Learn to See
3. Design for Today
4. Think in Pictures
5. Capture the Intangible
6. Leverage the Limits
7. Master the Tension
8. Run the Numbers
9. Make Kaizen Mandatory
10. Keep it Lean

Elaborated in ?Elegant Solutions? by Matthew E. May, link by Guy Kawasaki.


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  1. January 25th, 2007 | 11:33 am

    Guy Kawasaki,
    Innovation, like from the Toyota’s back benches,
    in your edit, is well said and is full of meaning;

    That Elegance, as I define is: Beauty with Brains,
    albeit with fulfilment of all Functions and Aims,
    befalling, along with Safety and allied constraints,
    is however not inhibited in any ( of the ten) domains.

    nevertheless, learning is – until the soul it touches!

    Priyavrat Thareja