Mistakes Working at Toyota and Distilling Whiskey, “What Did We Learn Today?” — David Meier

Mistakes Working at Toyota and Distilling Whiskey, “What Did We Learn Today?” — David Meier


Check out all episodes on the My Favorite Mistake main page.

My guest for Episode #94 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is an old friend of mine from professional circles, David Meier. When I first met him, he had left his career at Toyota, and became a consultant in the Lean methodology around the world. He is co-Author of the books The Toyota Way Fieldbook and Toyota Talent.

In recent years, he founded Glenn's Creek Distillery in Kentucky, which I've been able to visit twice. I've interviewed David previously a few times on my Lean podcast — about Toyota/Lean and about the distillery.

In today's episode, David shares his “favorite mistake” story from his Toyota days and how they created a “no-fault, no-blame culture.”

Other topics and questions:

  • The Jim Murray Whiskey Bible
  • More background about what you learned at Toyota
  • Hard for people to talk about mistakes, admitting they’re human
  • Blame vs. responsibility? 
  • Toyota teaches that leaders have responsibility 
  • Blame with punishment = “accountability”?
  • Punishment replaced with learning and improvement?
  • Hard on the process, not on the people
  • Mr. Yoshino’s mix up with the paint area (Episode #30)
  • My episode about the nearly lost episodes (Episode #16)
  • Mistakes about mistakes?
  • Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language
  • Mistakes at the distillery
  • Mistakes vs. discoveries?
  • Whiskey transported in barrels – mistake or learning??

Scroll down to find:

  • Watch the video
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

Watch the Episode:


"Toyota teaches that the leader's responsibility is to develop and create processes and systems that allow people to do their best work."
"Mitigation is probably a better term [than error proofing]. And so, with that in mind, we do have to acknowledge that mistakes are sort of inevitable, but you can apply certain thinking to minimize them in some ways."

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.