Topics in Operations Management 1: Operational Excellence - Japanese Perspectives

Some people argue that Japanese companies are excellent at operations. Toyota Motor Company has developed a system which arguably makes it possible to manufacture products with high quality, little inventory, and almost-zero defect rate - known as the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is nowadays taught at every operations management course at every business school around the world. 3.5 million passengers use Shinjuku Station every day in Tokyo - by far the largest number in the world.* In rush hours, trains arrive at and depart from Shinjuku Station every 3 minutes and they are rarely delayed.

Is there such a thing as "Japanese" operations management? If so, what is the essence of it? If so, does it mean that non-Japanese companies cannot implement "Japanese" operations management?

This course helps you rethink operations management from the Japanese perspective. The course focuses on "perspectives" of Japanese operations management, rather than quantitative analyses.

As for the teaching method, students will learn through discussions with executives from Japanese companies. Possible candidates for guest speakers may include:

  • An executive from Toyota Motor who turned around its Kentucky manufacturing plant in the United States.
  • A CEO who doubled market share by compressing lead time from three months to three days.
  • The CEO of a supermarket chain whose sales per square meter are three times the industry average.
  • An ex-Chairman and CEO who successfully turned around the performance of MUJI, a Japanese retail chain, by introducing operations management using detailed manuals.
  • A factory manager who solved production fluctuation through an innovative operation.

Note: No specific knowledge of operations management is required. The course starts with a few introductory sessions on the basic concept of operations management, just in case a student has not yet taken a standard operations management course at his/her business school.

*pre-Covid

Course Date & Time

Mondays and Thursdays, 18:15 - 20:15 p.m. (JST), except for the final session, which is on Friday, July 15 from 16:00 to 22:00 (JST) with a two-hour lecture and four-hour take home final exam.