I had a trip last month to Nagoya, Japan to get trained in Toyota Production System and its various tools and ramifications. Those lectures were, of course, useful and sometimes inspirational. I was even awed by the smart designs of some parts of Toyota's manufacturing system, like the use of various Kanban cards to coordinate material flows as well as to replenish supplies.
Eventually, I found that these methods and designs are not at all come about at once. Instead, most of them are the results of a methodology that Toyota called "Kaizen", which literally means continuous improvement. Even so, I still found that it's often hard to sustain such efforts to make improvements on some preexisting things over and over again. BUT, as I discovered this (see the pic below), I said to myself, "well, maybe there is nothing on this planet that the Japanese can't make improvements on..."