Episode #403 of the public radio program “This American Life” originally aired in 2010, telling the story of the NUMMI plant that was a joint venture between GM and Toyota (it’s now where they build Teslas). As a joint venture, that meant the closed-down GM Fremont plant was re-opened to be managed under the Toyota Production System.The This American Life story asks why GM didn’t learn more of the lessons from NUMMI. Well, GM did learn many lessons, but it wasn’t enough to save the company from bankruptcy (going from 50% market share to just over 20% will do that, regardless of how Lean your factories are, when you have moreretirees than active employees).
The story re-aired on NPR stations last weekend, which I learned of when many of you emailed me or tweeted at me about the program… and even some of my personal Facebook friends who don’t share my passion for Lean shared the link with me.
What makes it a throwback, in a way, is that I first blogged about the episode in 2010 in this post: NPR on the “End of the Line” at NUMMI and My Story About an Interviewee.
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