When talking to someone from Toyota about the Toyota System you can hardly avoid being told about the importance of teamwork. All systems are there to support the team doing its value-added work, but it´s not teams who do value-added work, it´s the people who do it. Teams coordinate work, motivate and learn from each other. Teams suggest innovative ideas, control even by peer pressure. However, for most people, it is more efficient to do the actual work necessary to make the product. Teams can coordinate in meetings but, in most cases, you cannot get a lot of detailed work done if people spend all their time in meetings.
Toyota assumes that if you make teamwork the foundation of the company, people will put their hearts and souls into making the company successful. The Toyota System was originally known as “respect for the humanity system. When you´ll read about this topic, you will notice that the Toyota Way has little to do with lavishing goodies on people whether they earn them or not, in fact it is about challenging and respecting people at the same time.
In the Toyota Way, those who perform the value-added tasks are the ones who are most familiar with the real work and the real problems that affect the work. Since Toyota aims to add value to its customers and it is the team members who do the value-added work, so it´s the team members who are at the top of the hierarchy. The rest of the hierarchy is there to support them. In the next line of action are the team leaders, employees who work in the line but have the possibility of a small promotion. The team leader cannot take disciplinary action, but is there to support the team members. The front-line supervisor is the group leader, responsible for leading and coordinating various groups.