7.4. Making Tacit Knowledge Explicit: The Toyota Way 2001

The fourth active element in Toyota's nerve system is the practice of converting deep, experiential, or tacit knowledge into explicit form, for broader sharing in the organization. Tacit knowledge is converted to explicit knowledge every time someone verbalizes or writes down the knowledge they have embodied, which is a deep understanding based on experience. Under the presidency of Fujio Cho, Toyota embarked on an initiative to put into writing the wisdom of the founders that had been passed down verbally through the generations. All their sayings and anecdotes were collected and evaluated to form a set of values, beliefs, principles, insights, and intuitions for the company. In the process, two core values were identified as the pillars of The Toyota Way 2001: "continuous improvement" (kaizen), and "respect for people" based on a belief in people's ordinary capabilities, as described in Chapter 6. The Toyota Way 2001 is a 13-page document, written in English and Japanese and known internally as the "Green Book." It was first distributed to Toyota associates around the world in April 2001.

John Kramer said the aim of the book was "to commit in writing what had been passed around the village bonfire for years and years, from the elders to the next generation."[] The growth and diversity of Toyota's overseas operations had alerted Fujio Cho to ponder the wisdom of the company elders and figure out a way to disseminate their ...

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