From Toyota to classroom training: overproduction is the worst of the 7 wastes as it generates the others

Mihai Cristea 20/05/2021 | 16:43

Overproduction generates the most losses in the traditional approach to classroom training and it is the most unwanted category of waste, according to Gemba Partners.


Toyota recognizes overproduction as the result of the “push” mentality and the worst of the 7 big wastes, as it generates most of the others, such as inventory, transportation, defects, and so on, adding costs without any value in return. Thus, the entire management system of Toyota (taken over outside the company under the name of Lean) is built around avoiding overproduction and the other 6 big wastes to achieve the much-desired just-in-time way of working.

Just-in-time” way of working is based on a “pull” mentality and seeks not to generate any cost that is not directly related to value creation.

As is already well known, the Lean mentality is widely applied in any industry, so not only those in automotive need to be concerned but each of us.

“As in any usual process, we found that there is a lot of waste in the traditional approach to classroom training. More than 90%, in our estimation. Before digging into the waste of the learning process, managers and entrepreneurs should analyze all lean categories of waste”, said Marius Stavarache, Managing Partner of Gemba Partners, a management consulting and training company.


Top 7 wastes represented into the traditional approach to classroom training

Overproduction – content is introduced mostly based on the training schedule and trainer availability and less on students’ actual needs for learning and growing.

“It’s like trying to eat on Monday in advance for the whole week and you have 2 expectations: that you will be sprinting even if you put a lot into yourself and that you will be able to maintain a good tone until Sunday evening,” said Marius Stavarache. “The current learning system is based on storing information for later use. This system is rudimentary and was built in times when information was difficult to access. Is it the case today to think the same way, when we can have the information transferred anywhere, anytime with the speed of light? Don’t we have a huge opportunity today to combine theory with real practice in the most efficient way possible?”


Let’s look how the other 6 wastes of Toyota Production System can be found in the traditional classroom training:

  • Inventory (the result of overproduction) – information received way before the need to apply them in business has to be “stored” by students.
  • Waiting – people who need to learn something new have to wait to form a learning group, find a trainer, contract, and so on.
  • Motion – students and trainers moving back and forth to see slides in the classroom and to apply the learning and be coached.
  • Transportation of people (trainers and/or students) to meet to learn; induces a lack of flexibility and adds useless costs.
  • Defects – students behind the group progress that does not meet the learning goal at the end of the program; they need rework to catch up.
  • Over-processing – students in a group that already learned, during the group rework with the ones left behind.


The bad news is that all this waste is there and makes the process feel unpleasant, rigid, costly and lacking student centricity. The good news is that the waste can be eliminated for a more enjoyable, cleaner, and flexible process that delivers just-in-time value for each student.

Just-in-time learning is, in Gemba Partners vision, part of the work process and is applied, the information appears when the learner looks for it and it is used immediately. Basically, the distance between the question “how do I do it?”, the moment when the answer “so I should do it” is deduced and the moment “I try again / I succeeded” is as short as possible.


This way of learning has some advantages, based on Gemba Partners findings:

  • the high degree of absorption of information by immediate applicability (if you stayed a day in a classroom and only in a week or a month you end up in the situation of using the information, how much of the information received is still faithful and present, good to put in practice immediately?); basically, here you eliminate waste – you only find out how much you need, when you need it
  • quick feedback from practice: find out how it’s done, put it into practice and immediately see what happens! This is how you learn about the reaction and adjust how you apply the information to your specifics
  • fixing information: once you have practically worked with the information and managed to get the desired result, it remains much better fixed in the mind and for a much longer period
  • learning is taken to the individual, not the group: in the past, the boyars took their teachers so that their children could learn individually. The idea of learning groups was for those who could not afford an individual learning process. Now, with the help of technology, we can, here, return to it with much lower costs, much more bearable.
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