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In Lieu of Money, Toyota Donates Efficiency to New York Charity
July 27, 2013 1:54 AM   Subscribe

The Food Bank for New York City is the country’s largest anti-hunger charity, feeding about 1.5 million people every year. It leans heavily, as other charities do, on the generosity of businesses, including Target, Bank of America, Delta Air Lines and the New York Yankees. Toyota was also a donor. But then Toyota had a different idea. Instead of a check, it offered kaizen.
posted by destrius (69 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is really cool! It kind of reminds me of that story from a while back about the joint Toyota/GM plant.

Great post!
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:56 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the article "“Nonprofit organizations are taking on what happens in the for-profit world because they will run better,” said Ronald P. Hill, a professor of marketing and business law at Villanova University."

While this case worked out well, the above is very obviously not a hard and fast rule. Exhibit 1: the banking system.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:57 AM on July 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Good for Toyota, and the food bank for accepting the advice..... These are the kind of partnerships we need.
posted by HuronBob at 2:57 AM on July 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


"While this case worked out well, the above is very obviously not a hard and fast rule. Exhibit 1: the banking system."

The difference is that Toyota is a company that actually knows something about efficiency, whereas the banks are all about separating people from their money.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:15 AM on July 27, 2013 [21 favorites]


the above is very obviously not a hard and fast rule
From what I understand it the failures usually miss the fundamental reason Toyota's "management" practices work, namely empowering those working at all levels of the process with making the decisions to improve the process. I have been involved with some of these continuous improvement cycles which fail because suggested improvements need to traverse multiple layers of "management" approval far removed from the process itself.
posted by fullerine at 3:39 AM on July 27, 2013 [25 favorites]


Banks operate extremely efficiently. They just do a different job than you think they are doing.
posted by DU at 3:41 AM on July 27, 2013 [50 favorites]


This is really good. I'm a huge optimization geek, so I love the idea of bringing real efficiency improvements to things like this.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:49 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


While this is mostly good news, major kaizen efficiencies rely on the ability to pass on external costs to suppliers or society. Two key supply chain examples would be JIT delivery (which effectively replaces warehouse space with space on trucks on the highway, for which society pays most of the cost) and rigorous standardization of packaging to fit production inputs (which, when you're dealing with donations, you often have to take what you can get, not what you specify). Neither of these would be easy for a food bank to enforce.

Sure, the bottom-up process improvement strategy is very helpful, but Toyota are getting great PR for a tiny donation here. It'll be some of Toyota's kaizen nerds donating their own time to the food bank, and their employer gets to bask in the glory. Again, a wonderful way for a corporation to outsource its external responsibilities.
posted by scruss at 3:50 AM on July 27, 2013 [30 favorites]


The difference is that Toyota is a company that actually knows something about efficiency, whereas the banks are all about separating people from their money.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:15 AM on July 27 [2 favorites +] [!]

Oh, I wasn't questioning that, just the oft stated cliche that for profit organisations are de facto more efficient than non profits.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:04 AM on July 27, 2013


I think this is fantastic. It works in the same manner as Engineers without Borders, a donation of time and expertise can far outweigh a monetary donation in impact.
posted by arcticseal at 5:10 AM on July 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wonderful. This is the kind of help a lot of non-profits desperately need!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:24 AM on July 27, 2013


Thanks so much for sharing this article. I love optimization and hate waste too (I took an onerous twelve step process down to four with an Access database and a few macros). Once one realizes where time, cost or a step can be saved, you start seeing the potential everywhere.
posted by Calzephyr at 5:26 AM on July 27, 2013


This is pretty cool. I wonder how they write it off for taxes?
posted by double block and bleed at 5:27 AM on July 27, 2013


While this is mostly good news, major kaizen efficiencies rely on the ability to pass on external costs to suppliers or society.

I don't buy this. They're shipping boxes whether they do it efficiently or not. "Suppliers" are a part of your logistics chain; you pay them and they provide what you need, an equitable exchange. The difference is whether you pay a shipping company $100 to ship five boxes that will each feed three meals or $100 to ship twenty boxes that will each feed six meals.

Inefficiency is waste.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:29 AM on July 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


It would be more efficient to spell Berkeley without the extra e.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:44 AM on July 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Great idea!

Hopefully, the meals stay together though.
posted by orme at 5:47 AM on July 27, 2013


Brkeley?
posted by ardgedee at 6:04 AM on July 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


The original 'E' was left off as a Kaizen improvement. The same level of information was provided with one less character...

Or, you could spell it with the right number of 'E's and just drop the 'Y'. Of course, in that case, I'm not sure if there are efficiency experts at a music school.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:21 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why can't they do both? They're the largest fucking car company ever. Do both.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:40 AM on July 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm all for optimization, but the line reduction measure sounds like they made the line shorter by opening up a waiting area and defining that as "not in line." Most of these sound like real efficiencies, but some sound like juking the stats. Or maybe there's such a thing as too much skepticism.
posted by Peevish at 6:45 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked the Voyager episode where Kes was freed from the kaizen.
posted by dr_dank at 6:45 AM on July 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm all for optimization, but the line reduction measure sounds like they made the line shorter by opening up a waiting area and defining that as "not in line."

While at the same time doing one-by-one seating and having someone spot empty chairs to get people to these seats faster. They didn't change the definition of "not in line"; they employed an efficient method of keeping things moving along that makes a hell of a lot more sense than the previous "wait for ten seats to open up, then send in ten people" rule that they were inexplicably following.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:58 AM on July 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


If you've arrived at the soup kitchen with your family or even just your partner, the take the next seat available rule sucks. But beggars can't be choosers.

Some of these examples require additional resources beyond good ideas -- the warehouse improvement, for example. Where'd the conveyor system and revamped rack setup to serve it come from?
posted by notyou at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is really creative, and pretty awesome.
posted by Fig at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2013


this article comes at an interesting time for me. I recently finished my degree in organizational psychology, where I studied efficiency. On monday I start working at a non-profit, researching effectiveness.
posted by rebent at 7:17 AM on July 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


> They're shipping boxes whether they do it efficiently or not.

While I agree that inefficiency is waste, kaizen is all about specialization of your input stream and process to make very specific things quickly, cheaply, and just well enough that someone will buy it. The charity's remit is to feed people (for all values of), with whatever is available, whenever the need arises. Not much overlap in mission there.

The boxes are a good example; the new 16×8×8" boxes that Toyota introduced may cost more. The old 12×12" boxes that the charity used may have been donated (partly because they were an inefficient shape, perhaps). Will other sizes of boxes even fit on the (donated?) conveyor belt? Who is going to maintain the conveyor belt, and manage its health and safety aspects? Doesn't matter to Toyota; they got their column inches, and probably sold enough extra Priuses to caring suburbanites to more than make up for the cash they didn't donate.

Kaizen can be lovely, but it's too easy to get caught up in the classic "systemantics" web of the purpose of the System is to maintain and support the System.
posted by scruss at 7:17 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Will other sizes of boxes even fit on the (donated?) conveyor belt? Who is going to maintain the conveyor belt, and manage its health and safety aspects? Doesn't matter to Toyota; they got their column inches, and probably sold enough extra Priuses to caring suburbanites to more than make up for the cash they didn't donate.

I don't get this. Toyota helped change the systematics of the charity so that they could help more people in less time, but you think they should have just donated cash?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:22 AM on July 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


Kaizen always reminds me of that Vonnegut short story where the efficiency guy comes to the local post office and everyone hates him.
posted by resurrexit at 7:22 AM on July 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


While I agree that inefficiency is waste, kaizen is all about specialization of your input stream and process to make very specific things quickly, cheaply, and just well enough that someone will buy it. The charity's remit is to feed people (for all values of), with whatever is available, whenever the need arises. Not much overlap in mission there.

In manufacturing, that's what kaizen is about; but it's worth noting that the term can be translated as "continuous improvement." It just means finding kinks in the process and changing them. For example, changing the waiting system is obvious; it's a problem that has been solved by every restaurant in the world.

The boxes are a good example; the new 16×8×8" boxes that Toyota introduced may cost more. The old 12×12" boxes that the charity used may have been donated (partly because they were an inefficient shape, perhaps). Will other sizes of boxes even fit on the (donated?) conveyor belt? Who is going to maintain the conveyor belt, and manage its health and safety aspects? Doesn't matter to Toyota; they got their column inches, and probably sold enough extra Priuses to caring suburbanites to more than make up for the cash they didn't donate.

16x8x8 is a standard size and is likely cheaper than a 12x12x12 cube because of a lower volume (1024 in3 versus 1728 in3) and smaller surface area (864 in2 versus 512 in2). Furthermore, if a 12x12x12 box will fit on the conveyor belt, so will a 16x8x8. Regarding maintenance, what they're calling a "conveyor belt" is actually a skatewheel conveyor. You finish with your box and you push it along to the next person. Maintenance is rare and cheap, and no electricity is involved. You can see it in the slide show.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:01 AM on July 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm lost. They had a conveyor for 12" boxes, now they have a conveyor for belt that holds larger 16" boxes... and someone wonders if other boxes won't fit?

And this is the same person that's trying to educate us about how efficiency is really supposed to work?

On edit: What Sonic Meat Machine just said.
posted by Blue_Villain at 8:11 AM on July 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Never underestimate the power of the internet to assume that some professionals are just grossly incompetent at the job they do every single day.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:30 AM on July 27, 2013 [42 favorites]


Very few systems include self-review as part of the process, and so stupidities pile up. Anything that encourages this, especially at the eye level of the day-to-day employee, is good.
posted by argybarg at 8:33 AM on July 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


(just in case of any confusion, I meant professionals==toyota engineers)
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:37 AM on July 27, 2013


> The boxes are a good example; the new 16×8×8" boxes that Toyota introduced may cost more. The old 12×12" boxes that the charity used may have been donated (partly because they were an inefficient shape, perhaps). Will other sizes of boxes even fit on the (donated?) conveyor belt? Who is going to maintain the conveyor belt, and manage its health and safety aspects? Doesn't matter to Toyota; they got their column inches, and probably sold enough extra Priuses to caring suburbanites to more than make up for the cash they didn't donate.

Kaizen is about the art of managing constraints. It is not about making very specific things quickly, its about making sure every system has the right flow to it. To assume it is just for managing assembly lines is to misunderstand it's usefulness. Its the basis for the new hotness of DevOp's IT business practices.

If you aren't focusing on the bottleneck, then time and energy spent on anything else is wasted.

Toyota just donating money to the charity wouldn't have let them feed more people in less time, or get more food to those who need it in any more dramatic fashion, because they still had an operational limit of 90 minute waits for food (which means no matter how much free food they had, they couldn't feed more people), they couldn't move material out of their inventory faster than 3 minutes. If Toyota just gave them money, there would be plenty of food and plenty of things in the warehouse, but then the charity would have to spend the money on buying a bigger warehouse or moving to a larger space to the feed the people, if they hadn't just changed their process.

What Toyota gave the charity was the ability to spend the money donated to them more efficiently. It minimizes waste because now they can turn around donated food faster, which means all of it is more likely to get to people before it turns bad, and so on.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:39 AM on July 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sometimes it is okay not to be a cynic.
posted by Apoch at 8:47 AM on July 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


Never underestimate the power of the internet to assume that some professionals are just grossly incompetent at the job they do every single day.

We've always done this; the Internet just allows us to do it more efficiently.
posted by ogooglebar at 9:00 AM on July 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is good publicity for Toyota, but MUCH better publicity for the Food Bank.

"Hey, how about I donate my money to that super efficient charity I read about in NYT!"
posted by oceanjesse at 9:08 AM on July 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is innovative and awesome.

If Toyota didn't donate their services, this still sounds like the sort of thing it would be worth a nonprofit paying for. People hold it against charities when they spend money on overhead and administration, but that's usually a mistake.
posted by painquale at 9:11 AM on July 27, 2013


there are two funny ironies about this story:

1) this is usually the sort of thing you see with developing nations. foreign white knight swoops in to show the benighted natives how you run the trains on time. but, the fundamental reason why there might be 90 minute waits for free food is that food bank use has increased dramatically since 2007 (i wasn't able to find firm figures on the internet, but for some food banks use doubled from 2008 to 2011.) i'm sure it's good to be more efficient, but the real inefficiency is in the reasons why all of those people have to go to the "soup kitchen" to eat... which leads to

2) isn't funny how a central planner (like Toyota) can make things run so efficiently. Why stop with the food bank, why not let Toyota plan the food distribution network further down the line, so people don't need to get emergency food. dealing with emergencies is always less efficient than a well planned supply chain which delivers what is needed, where people don't have to drop everything when the needed part (food) runs out. but, oh wait, that would be communism.

Toyota is a communist organization: the engine division isn't trying to make a profit from the automobile division. The "kaizen" supply chain engineers aren't charging consulting fees when there are bottlenecks at the factory. Why not apply "kaizen" in a more fundamental way to the food supply chain?
posted by ennui.bz at 9:22 AM on July 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm struck by how desperate some people are to avoid admitting that a big evil corporation (because they're all evil, amirite?) could ever have have done anything positive.
posted by dodecapus at 9:23 AM on July 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


dodecapus: I can't say anything in particular about Toyota one way or the other, but there's a slow backlash rising against charitywashing. See Warren Buffett's son's op-ed from Friday.
posted by phooky at 9:26 AM on July 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's something vaguely cyberpunk about this, but in a positive way.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:37 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you think about it. Imagine if Toyota was run like US society (or Sears).

The Yaris factories would be constantly running out of parts so that they were so inefficient that a Yaris cost more than a Lexus, while the Lexus factory had entire states devoting to vast warehouses of parts that are never used or sold to the Yaris factory managers at exhorbitant prices or sold on the black market to pad the pockets of the Lexus managers. The Lexii would be made out of aircraft grade titanium and inlaid with jewels, while some Yarises don't even have steering wheels. Meanwhile, for no reason except the color of their paint, some large proportion of black Yarises are immediately sent to the junkyard as soon as they come off of the production line.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:38 AM on July 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


If it helps, think about this as a matter of giving a man(or woman) a fish vs teaching them how to fish effectively.
posted by Twain Device at 9:38 AM on July 27, 2013


One of my first jobs out of college was writing a manual explaining the principles of kaizen to employees of a Carrier air conditioning plant. I had to educate myself on the principles of the kaizen and then try to boil it down into language the workers could understand, using examples their working environments. So I had to spend like a week on the factory floor observing and talking to the workers.

I have never felt more hated in my entire life.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:39 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


> JIT delivery (which effectively replaces warehouse space with space on trucks on the highway, for which society pays most of the cost)

I don't understand this. Doesn't the delivery happen eventually anyway? How is this offsetting any cost to society?
posted by mulligan at 9:42 AM on July 27, 2013


It's the equivalent of Toyota giving matching donations for all future donations to the food bank.
posted by pracowity at 9:57 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this. Doesn't the delivery happen eventually anyway? How is this offsetting any cost to society?

Yes, every item in a warehouse must eventually be delivered or liquidated. It's just a question of whether this is done efficiently, with relatively few trucks, or inefficiently, with more.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:58 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


@Mulligan, a JIT supply chain means that you don't hold a large stock of parts in inventory waiting for orders to come in. When an order is received, you then have your supplier send over just enough to assemble the end product. Less inventory = more efficient use of capital.
posted by scalespace at 10:48 AM on July 27, 2013


Okay, so Toyota got some training for their efficiency engineers, the foodbank got some nice time savings and the people who had to queue up for 90 minutes to get fed now don't need to wait so long. I consider those to be good outcomes.

I really should remember to not read the comments on this site for any 'good news' story - the outflow of bile can be off-putting.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:00 AM on July 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most of what's in the article is great, and I applaud the effort. My "however" comes from volunteering at a Food Bank, mostly in the packaging of food baskets that were going to go into kid's backpacks. I'd be there with a small group of people from my employer, and there would be other groups from schools or churches or whatever, and every group would work around long tables and fill bags. One box of this, two cans of that, a bag of those, then fold & tape closed at the end. I do continuous improvement professionally, so it really pained me to see everyone doing all kind of inefficient stuff - people stopping the line to getting their own supplies, reaching across things for stock, taking things out of the bag so their item would fit in better, packing the bags all differently; all those little things that would waste time. So I would tweak things - kanbans, balance tasks, standardize the packaging, eliminate unproductive movement.

And it didn't matter. Or worse, people didn't like it because they weren't there to work hard or fast, they were there to put in a couple hours "helping out". And the Food Bank wanted a fixed number of packed bags & wasn't really prepared to fill peoples' time if they finished early. Volunteers didn't want (primarily) to be efficient, they wanted to be social and chat, and put in their time.

The example in TFA about reducing the line at the Soup Kitchen? Maybe that was good and maybe not. If they had a fixed amount of food, which I think is likely, it doesn't matter overall whether there were lines or not; if they could stay open long enough all the food would get served no matter how long it took. But to the hungry people in line you bet that they don't want to wait.

The example about the box size is another good one for considering the effects of change across the entire supply chain. The 16x8x8 box's volume is 60% of the 12x12x12, with about the same amount of corrugate. If you're buying enough, box costs are about how many you buy, so if the charity is buying* these, they are probably going to cost about the same. TFA says the big one had empty space, and it's probably good to eliminate that. The 16x8x8 makes for a much nicer pallet stack than the 12x12x12 too. But what happens to those boxes later in the chain? Did someone donate dedicated shelving somewhere that is 12" high and 12" deep? That 16x8x8 box is going to screw that up.

Anyway, good for them, but try to consider the full results of your changes.

* If your system is dependent on donated items the best thing you can do is design for flexibility.
posted by achrise at 11:16 AM on July 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


While I agree that inefficiency is waste

Not always. Sometimes* it's flexibility and resiliency.

* just sometimes.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:20 AM on July 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


You're right, we shouldn't ever question the motivations of massive multinationals, especially when they throw a bone to the poors.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:55 AM on July 27, 2013


Literally no one said that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:57 AM on July 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


> JIT delivery (which effectively replaces warehouse space with space on trucks on the highway, for which society pays most of the cost)

I don't understand this. Doesn't the delivery happen eventually anyway? How is this offsetting any cost to society?


The implication is that instead of buying a shipping container of widgets to get the best per-unit cost, the buyer buys them buy the boxful. So instead of one shipment, there are UPS guys showing up every day with the parts for the next day's production run. More traffic, wear and tear, etc., on the roads. If the costs and taxes are perfectly adjusted, then the externalities are paid for, but this isn't always the case.
posted by gjc at 12:35 PM on July 27, 2013


The implication is that instead of buying a shipping container of widgets to get the best per-unit cost, the buyer buys them buy the boxful. So instead of one shipment, there are UPS guys showing up every day with the parts for the next day's production run.

In any real manufacturing supply chain, it doesn't work like this. No manufacturer of any significant scale could keep running on an amount delivered by a UPS guy. What really happens is that the manufacturer goes to the supplier and says "We project a need for 100,000 widgets. Instead of delivering them to us all at once and making us house them in our inventory, we want you to deliver them in lots of 5,000 that we'll order approximately weekly. We'll pay you the normal unit price for an order of 100,000." The supplier agrees because he doesn't have to build 100,000, warehousing them until the order is ready to ship; he can reserve production capacity over six months, and generally plan to make to order since the lot sizes are much smaller. As a result, no one is having a huge pile of widgets sitting around, incurring warehousing costs. It's not sitting in the trucks, waiting for delivery; there's no externality being offloaded onto society. The difficulty of this is that it requires suppliers to operate with a higher degree of efficiency, and the system is less resilient to shocks because there's fewer buffers everywhere.

For a real world example of this: Rubbermaid was, for a while, a tier one supplier for Walmart's plastic housewares section. This meant that Rubbermaid could receive an order for a truckload of product, with a delivery window of two hours at the assigned distribution centre, 24 hours out. So Rubbermaid had to have in place a logistics chain capable of putting a truckload of product anywhere in the U.S. with 24 hours of notice. And they did it for quite a while--they achieved incredible levels of efficiency internally in order to do this, which of course had benefits for every part of Rubbermaid.

[So why'd they quit being a tier one supplier? Walmart drove profit margins in housewares so far down that, when Rubbermaid's oldest plastics factory burned down, cutting their production capacity by something like 20%, they announced that they were getting out of that line, rather than rebuild. Walmart was pissed, and we got a call the next day for our Director of Marketing to fly to Bentonville to discuss replacing them. Our owner wisely declined, recognizing that we were nowhere near being able to function at that level.]

Fundamentally, JIT supplychain is about getting your shit together enough to eliminate slack in your system, not offloading costs or creating externalities.
posted by fatbird at 2:21 PM on July 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


Toyota: efficiently institutionalizing poverty.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:32 PM on July 27, 2013


Today I learned: contributing to charities actually causes poverty
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:06 PM on July 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


It'll be some of Toyota's kaizen nerds donating their own time to the food bank, and their employer gets to bask in the glory.

Speaking of which, a few weeks ago I was home on a Tuesday, dropping off garbage at the local underground drop point, then was curious to see the local neighbourhood team from the council directing a mass of volunteers to clean up our neighbourhood -- the council not having enough money to actually pay somebody to do this low grade of cleaning up. Instead, it was a group of people from Boeing.

In a neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Sacrifising half a day of work for a bit of "charity".

One the one hand, good for them. On the other, I'd rather see the council do their job properly, but if money is short in a crisis, this at least is a interesting temporary solution. On the gripping hand, this kind of pseudo charity, organised by big businesses like Boeing in conjuction with the state is somewhat like what got us in this mess in the first place.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:30 PM on July 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Of course, the real wtf in this story is not Toyota contributing efficiency instead of money to charity, or even conning their employees in doing so for them, but rather that one of the richest cities in the world in the richest and most powerful country in the world needs fucking soup kitchens and food banks in the first place.

Also, that ten - fifteen years ago we could shake our heads and mutter "America" but now we have food banks ourselves.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:36 PM on July 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


As someone who's done some work in manufacturing, the problem of just in time manufacturing is certainly NOT that the inefficiency gets passed around. The parts don't exist anywhere - not in your warehouse, not on the road, not in the supplier's factory. They're built "Just In Time" ALL ALONG the supply chain. It's incredibly efficient.

The trade-off you get is inflexibility and long lead times, often over 6 months to get an order changed or modified. (supply contracts are signed all along the chain down to tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers in order to get this whole JIT thing to work - the less inventory you run with, the smaller the tolerance you have for disruption)

The only thing I could see as less efficient would be if, I don't know, instead of sending a truck with 300 parts a week, they had to send you a van with 60 parts 5 times a week. That would be less efficient. But no manufacturing works on a scale that small.
posted by xdvesper at 6:05 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Today I learned: contributing to charities actually causes poverty

If we didn't make these slackers' lives so comfortable by giving them free food, I'm sure they'd have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and be productive members of society by now

hamburger, because I don't really trust mefi to discern that on its own
posted by hattifattener at 1:38 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


to more than make up for the cash they didn't donate.

This is a really ridiculous criticism and shows you know little about the non-profit world. Practically every charity out there that is actually doing something is doing it with a hefty chunk of what is called "in-kind donation" (or just "gifts in kind"). It is in fact crucial to many small non-profits that they receive in-kind donation of professional services, such as legal or accounting services, and very often this is exactly why So-and-So is on the board of said non-profit. Such gifts are ideally properly accounted for and the donor is given a tax write-off document valid in their jurisdiction.

Other non-profits could not exist without in-kind donation of goods, such as the groceries distributed by food banks.

It is most definitely not all about cash, and cash may not even be something useful to a particular non-profit.
posted by dhartung at 3:14 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: remember to not read the comments on this site
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:24 AM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kaizen is about the art of managing constraints. It is not about making very specific things quickly, its about making sure every system has the right flow to it.

Flow is what bosses often don't understand—I can't give you everything at once or even necessarily on time, but if the flow is right, none of that matters and the entire product ships on time and error-free.
posted by limeonaire at 7:18 PM on July 28, 2013


It'll be some of Toyota's kaizen nerds donating their own time to the food bank, and their employer gets to bask in the glory. Again, a wonderful way for a corporation to outsource its external responsibilities.

Yup.

Why can't they do both? They're the largest fucking car company ever. Do both.

Yup.

...giving a man(or woman) a fish vs teaching them how to fish effectively.

Or...
how about working to make it possible for every man (or woman) to have access to a fishing rod?
posted by BlueHorse at 8:04 PM on July 28, 2013


MetaFilter: All good things are actually bad things in disguise.
posted by Bugbread at 11:56 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why can't they do both? They're the largest fucking car company ever. Do both.

Oh, for pity's sake.

IN the 20 years since Toyota opened its first plant in the United States, its reputation as a corporate philanthropist has grown along with its vehicle sales.

Its gifts have ranged from cash grants for education groups to minivans for Special Olympics West Virginia to allowing farmland near its Indiana assembly plant to be used by local chapters of the National FFA Association, or Future Farmers of America.

Now, with the Detroit auto companies scaling back charitable donations after a slump in car sales, Toyota, which expects to earn $5.5 billion worldwide this year, has emerged as an alternative source of money, even though it is experiencing the same slowdown that has hit American carmakers. Still, it continues to make donations, even in those companies’ backyard.

In 2007, Toyota, which has five plants in the United States and is set to open a sixth in 2010 in Blue Springs, Miss., donated $57 million to schools, arts organizations, environmental groups and other American charities.


The Toyota USA Foundation is a $100 million fund specifically directed at K-12 education.

Toyota, Lexus Boost Charitable Giving Through Dealer Match Programs

The idea that this is some kind of cop-out is belied by a *single Google search*. Saying they should have donated cash instead of in-kind professional services is placement of an arbitrary "good enough" standard that, very importantly, is not falsifiable because "enough" is in the eye of the beholder. Really? Only $100 million?
posted by dhartung at 3:08 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Practically every charity out there that is actually doing something is doing it with a hefty chunk of what is called "in-kind donation" (or just "gifts in kind"). It is in fact crucial to many small non-profits that they receive in-kind donation of professional services, such as legal or accounting services, and very often this is exactly why So-and-So is on the board of said non-profit.

This is true, as a volunteer who does the low end stuff - chopping onions, mopping floors, serving dinner - my experience has been that in certain regions some non-profits end up with a lot of people who want to volunteer for things like streamlining/management or offer donations of expertise in technology and very few who want to do mundane and grubby tasks. I was once at a volunteer orientation for dinner servers in Vancouver where a woman announced that she was there to help with the organization's grant writing, which was nice but they didn't need help with that. They needed people to work the dishwasher.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:32 AM on July 29, 2013


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