How Toyota became the Werewolf

Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corpora...

Image via Wikipedia

Akio Toyoda to testify in Washington: maybe he’s finally waking up to the fact that he runs a global company and has to behave that way. – Tweet by Michael Schuman, Correspondent Time magazine – 18/2/10

As most of us know (If you follow movies), there is some lead time involved before ‘The man’, turns into a Werewolf (only when there is a full moon). Well, Toyota (the werewolf) had known about the complaints ranging from unintended acceleration to brake failure in 2002 (US regulators informed 2004). Even Steve Wozniak, mentioned his Prius problems and indicated that the problem was software based in an interview in early February. The transitional phase had started for Toyota to become a werewolf. All Toyota had to wait for was nightfall. The dreaded night for the werewolf came in January and by the end of that night, the werewolf had killed an estimated 19 people in the US alone, recalled 8.5 million cars, sales had fallen by 16% in January alone and an inquiry launched into Toyota Corolla’s power steering problems. The Toyota that had won the Japanese quality award for 1980 had been consumed by the powerful werewolf that was now the largest car maker in the world since 2008.

The damage had been done! The werewolf awoke the following morning and realised that it had to remedy the situation. As we know, the remedies for werewolves are painful (not mentioning the silver bullet). As Japan sped up its car recall system, the US knew it could not live with a werewolf amongst its midst and congressman Edolphus Towns, told Toyoda in a letter that American drivers were “unsure as to what exactly the problem is, whether it is safe to drive their cars, or what they should do about it.” The latest news is that the werewolf’s representative (the boss himself) has agreed to attend the Congress hearing.

The werewolf is trying hard to fix its problems, including the infamous sticky accelerator problem – Click here – (excellent interactive graphical courtesy of the Guardian) with a brake-override system in all future models. The werewolf had hugely underestimated the problem as in the winter of 2008-09 it had reports of “stiff” pedals.

President Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota acknowledged on 17/2 for the first time that the firm had expanded too fast in its quest to increase profits and overtake General Motors as the world’s biggest carmaker, a feat it achieved two years ago, according to the Guardian website. He acknowledged in an opinion piece he wrote for The Washington Post recently that the company had “failed to connect the dots” between the sticky pedals in Europe, surfacing as early as December 2008, and those in the U.S. that culminated in the massive recalls. He also said, “The Company needed to improve sharing important quality and safety information across our global operations.” The werewolf believed it to be a “quality” not a “safety” issue. Steven C. McNeely. Manager, SMS , in his article, Lesson Learned from Toyota, argues that, “safety is an unspoken and unwritten quality expectation of our customers, and you cannot separate the two. You can have a quality product or service, as defined by the ISO standards, and still not have a safe product or service. Toyotas’ problem clearly accentuates this point”.

“Toyota managers did not respond to the early signals. That’s when they should have identified the root causes,” said Sharma, who teaches Toyota production methods to businesses. “If the Toyota brand no longer stands for quality, what does it stand for?” – Anand Sharma, chief executive of TBM Consulting Group, based in Durham, North Carolina, told The Associated Press

“Toyota drivers have gone from being customers of the company to being wards of the government,” says Jim Cain, senior vice president of Quell Group, a marketing-communications firm in Detroit, and a former Ford media-relations executive. ” according to Time.

“As far as we know, Toyota is still the best manufacturing company in the world when it comes to production management,” Michael A. Cusumano, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, the gas pedal and floor-mat defects were design errors in supplier parts, and the faulty braking in hybrid models was caused by a software glitch. They weren’t manufacturing errors, the kinds of defects workers at plants have been trained to pick out — a piece that doesn’t fit, a crack in a part, something that diverges from the design.

“Toyota has been exemplary at surfacing problems in the factory and stopping production before a crisis was reached,” said Jeffrey Liker, professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, who has written books on the Toyota Way.

“Failure to follow all the principles of the Toyota Way led to this crisis. Now the Toyota Way is the only way out of it,” said Liker.

CIOs and IT Management can learn from the Toyota debacle. The most important question I had to ask myself when I heard of Toyota’s woes was a simple one. Do I unlearn everything about Just In Time (JIT), lean management, Total Quality Management (TQM) and ‘The Toyota Way’ and start over? I will leave that question open, for now!

The key lessons for CIOs are:

  1. Acknowledge and fix the problem with any process, system or project as soon as it is highlighted by stakeholders. Do not allow it to spiral out of control.
  2. Listen, listen, and listen again.
  3. Isolate the issue(s) and ensure that it is not a part of a much larger problem.
  4. Everybody within the company is an ambassador for the company, including the IT department. If the IT dept spot a non IT issue that affects the company, take 100% responsibility for it and get it addressed.
  5. Use social media (SM) channels such as LinkedIn, facebook and Twitter to monitor your user community by proactively listening, anticipating problems and getting involved with these communities.
  6. Do not hide/shy away from social media (SM) and use it to create competitive advantage.
  7. Brand reputation can be enhanced or irreparably damaged on SM. Be there to get your message across

Related Article on Toyota pay the price for not connecting the dots 

Advertisements

About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

10 Responses to How Toyota became the Werewolf

  1. Thanks for a great article.

    I am (was?) SUCH a believer in The Toyota Way and am just flabbergasted that the Mecca of Quality has done this. My last three cars have been Toyotas. When I got a new 4 Runner, my old 4 Runner went to my husband. It’s 11 years later, is getting close to 150K miles on it, and has never been in the shop. I am just about to lease a new car. Three weeks ago, it was going to be my 4th Toyota in a row…and now I am thinking Infinity.

    But I actually feel like I am “cheating” on Toyota. Over the last decade, they have been so good to me, so loyal, so dependable. Then I think, “No, they cheated on me and now it’s my turn to go out and have some fun!”

    So is it off to the Infinity dealer…or to Toyota and (I am guessing) get a great deal on a new Toyota??

    The one thing I do know is that Mr. Liker is right. Failure in following the principles of the Toyota Way led to this and now the Toyota Way is the only way to get out of it!

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Lisa, thanks for your kind words. To hear encouraging words such as, ‘great article’, makes it worth the effort. I spend hours researching, collating and then finally writing my blogs and to get comments such as these really makes it worth it.

      I am grateful that you have shared your Toyota ownership story with all of us and it is indeed customers such as yourself that Toyota have as you said, ‘cheated’. I use that word, as although, you feel you are cheating Toyota, it’s the other way around. I feel quite strongly about that as I also happen to be a Toyota fan as you know.

      I could have perhaps forgiven Toyota if there was no loss of life. To act when at least 19 people have been killed is unforgiveable. I wish I was thinking of buying a Toyota, I would have driven down and handed a letter to Toyota, addressed to their president, Akio Toyoda. In that letter I would have stated that I wanted to buy a Toyota but have opted not to purchase a Toyota as punishment for all those innocent lives that were lost due to their ability to grasp the gravity of the situation.

      The buck stops with Toyota, as they had the ultimate responsibility for their product. They can now apply the Toyota way and history will decide whether the public forgave them!

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Patricia Stanley Martinez (psmart2006@aol.com) Available for new challenging opportunity in FL posted the following comment on a social media site:

    I think that they would do well to remember that old adage

    Quality is more valuable than quantity.

    Toyota enjoyed a reputaion for quality that dorve buyers to purchase at a higher price point than many of their competitors due to perceived value in realtion to price.

    While the competition was often driven to garner sales through frequent rebate and zero interest programs Toyota did not feel the same pressure to offer such frequent or deep incentives. Toyota marketed to the quality of their product.

    But it appears Toyota wanted both pieces of the pie – the distinction as a quality leader and the distinction of the market leader. Apparently from what we are reading attaining both simultaneously did not fall into alignment.

    As more and more problems come to light the big question is at what point did Toyota know they had problems. According to some reports Toyota knew for years there were issues with many of their vehicles and yet no recall was instituted.

    There is an old movie staring Gene Hackman who plays a lawyer sueing an automaker. The automaker knew there were serious safey issues with their vehicles that could result in accidents and even fatalities. When the risk analysts calculated the cost of all the recalls versus paying out settlements even in wrongfull death suits, they determined that it would be less expensive to settle in court than to recall and fix all of the problems with the cars.

    I am not saying that Toyota was so calculating, but from printed reports it does appear that they failed to act with a sense of urgency.

    This has not only become a safety issue but a trust issue. Can the consumer ever really feel confident again that Toyota will act in the best interest of the public and the consumer in not only returning to quality standards but in acting expediously in the event of future issues.

    Toyota has pledged quality going forward. How long will it take to restore consumer confidence ? Your guess is as good as mine.

    I replied:

    Patricia, thanks for your thoughts. Including me and you, Toyota have upset many loyal customers. On my blog, today, a lady commented that she had bought four Toyotas in a row!! Even she was debating on what to do on her imminent next purchase.

    Toyota knew about the problems since 2002, even US regulators were informed by 2004. As you said, they wanted both pieces of the pie (Market/Quality leader). It is as you said, a Quality/safety/trust issue all rolled into one.

    The one issue Toyota cannot be forgiven for is the loss of at least 19 lives. If it were just a matter of recalls and quality, I could have forgiven them. Loss of life is unforgivable.

    Toyota MUST be punished by customers not purchasing their products and ensuring that Toyota know why they are not purchasing their products (with a heavy heart, as I am a Toyota fan).

    The buck stops with Toyota, they have to take 100% responsibility and let time be their judge, jury and executioner!

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Patricia added:

      There is a new article out tonight indicating the former Toyota Attorney Biller, had proof that the roofs in certain SUV’s were not constructed to adequately protect occupants in the case of a roll over. He tried to bring this to the attention of top executives in Janpan but he was spurned.

      He alleges that Toyota destroyed evidentiary documents in relation to this problem. He has 6000 remaining documents which have been supoened by the government.

      This is more than a trust issue, it is an issue of intergrity and ethics, and wether Toyota willfully and knowingly put lives in danger for the sake of profits.

      As each day unfolds more and more comes to light. And yet Toyota seems to think adds promising to restore trust and a temporay price rollback and incentives will do the trick.

      It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds and whether the American public will buy into Toyota’s song and dance or choose to send a clear message to Toyota by refusing to purchase their vehicles.

      I replied 23/2/10:

      Patricia, thanks for your informative comments. I did not know about Biller and Toyota seems to have followed the Gene Hackman movie plot!

      That is just infuriating! I think it’s not just the American public in arms about this debacle, we have backlash in the UK and indeed globally as well.

      I believe customers should punish Toyota by, as you said, spurning them and refusing to buy their cars at the very least.

      I will keep a track on the news but if you come across that new article tonight, can you please post it on this discussion and I’ll read it asap. Thanks.

  3. mubbisherahmed says:

    Frederic Gisbert Computer engineering & Management at Atos Origin said the following on a social media site:

    Toyota created a new management method based on a scientific basis (statistical analysis) and on workers’ psychology. A “Total Quality Management (TQM)” was born by following the Deming’s theories. Then, managers and workers tried together to improve the production’s processes with a long term view. Nowadays we call the Toyota’s management methods “Lean Manufacturing” and “Just In Time”. These theories seems to have forgotten some key concepts of the original Deming’s method. Because managers seems to be focused back on the annual results. So they ask to their employees to obtain short term results instead of improving the processes.

    This original Deming’s method is described in his books, sold by millions in the world :
    – Out of Crisis
    – New in economics

    Hope it could help all of you even if Toyota don’t go back to its fundamentals.

    I replied:

    Frederic, you took me back in time as you said, it used to be called statistical analysis. I had forgotten that term but there are two things that I didn’t forget. Deming and Toyota’s case studies.

    I actually wrote two articles, not so long ago on Deming:

    Can IT Management failure be caused by a deadly disease? Part I
    http://tinyurl.com/edemming

    Can IT Management failure be caused by a deadly disease? Part II
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/edemming2

    I am also glad that you have highlighted Deming’s books as I can now add them to my ‘MUST Read’ list of books (Should have read them by now, to be honest).

    You are right, it’s not just people like me who have forgotten the original concepts, it’s Toyota itself! Time for them to read these books as well and not just look at Deming’s photo at their HQ in Toyota city!

    • mubbisherahmed says:

      Fred added:

      Hi Ahmed.

      Very happy with your message and articles’ links. If you haven’t read the books : you cannot really understand the Deming theorie ! And so you cannot understand why Toyota became the best company of the world regarding quality and employment.

      I was in the same situation beforehand : we often heard about PDCA (the “Deming’s wheel”) inside bad management trainings. And we always think we have all understood !

      But once you’ll make efforts to read (and study!) the books, you’ll understand the Deming’s Management is more large than this simply PDCA wheel. You’ll also realize that many management theories like launching a wide quality plan with exhortation on workers, like MBO (made by Peter Druker) also called “Management By Objective” are completely destructive for the worker’s motivation and inefficient on the the mid-term financial results.

      I’ve read the Deming’s books and realized that I was totally wrong like many managers in this world in crisis ! The Deming’s theory can be summarized around these few points :
      – the 14 points of Deming, to implement a management transformation towards a humanist way
      – the 7 illness for companies
      – the systemic vision (statistical analysis) that permit to differentiate the common problems (due to management) and the special problems (due to environment and unpredictable root causes)
      – the “deep knowledge” theories.
      – the usage of real “Operational definitions”

      The real weakness of the Deming’s theory is : it’s mandatory to spread this management from top to down. Because this management works only if everybody in the company accept the rules. That was the case with Toyota.

      I wish you a good reading. We need to spread this theory made by a genius to save our planet and protect the next generation against worst and worst economic crisis !

      Don’t hesitate to contact me if any questions or if you want to debate.

      I replied:

      Thanks, you are absolutely correct, I learnt about Deming, Toyota, Statistical analysis, JIT, etc while I was at university, quite selectively. I did understand it (according to what we were taught) and that led to my fascination with Deming and his work quite recently when the video regarding the five deadly diseases of western management became public last year (I think). I must have missed massive chunks though. That’s it, the books have just gone to the Top of my list.

      I am grateful for your observations of Deming’s theory and the summary provided. I agree, Deming’s work seems to have been forgotten and I would be interested to learn how the Deming institute is promoting his ideas currently. I have come across another gentlemen as well, who had similar thoughts to us. I have just checked the LI groups and currently there are some Deming groups, The W. Edwards Deming Institute +OFFICIAL GROUP+ , InThinking Network , Red Bead Experiment , Deming HR , Deming Interest Group , Leanomics , and possibly many more.

      So, it seems Deming is very much alive in peoples’ minds globally. I wonder, if me, you and the other gentlemen could either become involved in one of these groups to spread his theories or create another group etc. What are your thoughts?

      • mubbisherahmed says:

        Joseph Picolla, PMP Assistant Director, Management Advisory Services at U.S. House of Representatives – Office of Inspector joined the debate and said:

        I think Toyota’s technical actions in response to their crisis, in the context of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) or Total Quality Management (TQM), is quite interesting in two aspects:

        1) When the problems became widely known and touted in the media to be widespread, Toyota literally “stopped the line” (that is, shut down production) and searched for an answer. The idea, obviously, is to stop creating defective product. This is one precept of rigorous quality management. On this scale, the cost-benefit analysis of the opportunity cost of stopping the line versus continuing production and applying a fix later must have been most difficult and, depending on one’s viewpoint, perhaps somewhat courageous.

        2) Jim Lentz admitted in his Congressional testimony that Toyota may not yet fully know the cause of the issues, alluding to the fact they need to examine and fix the poduction process. Again, another nod to rigorous quality management.

        So, while the political or corporate handling of the issue is certainly a matter for debate and opinion, I certainly see Toyota applying certain foundational principles of LSS and TQM in their technical actions.

        Thanks for raising the topic.

        Nadeem Moghal Director of Applications at InterDent added further:

        Very intesting exchanges, Ahmed and Frederic. I’ve enjoyed ’em, and would like to chip in with my own perspective about what went wrong with Toyota.

        I don’t think anyone would argue against TQM, or lean manufacturing, or about the “Toyota Way” as it has been over several decades. They have dominated the markets worldwide because: (a) they built quality products; (b) they were reasonably priced; (c) they remained vigilant and continued to evolve as needed; and, most importantly; (d) they remained true to their core principles.

        The recent years, however, caught them with their guard down. While the financial pressures from the top (ownership, management) caused them to reduce some focus on quality, they also failed to notice the pradigm shifts in the competitive landscape. They were forced to contend with new companies that came out of nowhere; were considerably more agile in their adaptation, and were suddenly a force to reckon.

        This need to change too quickly can cause the best of ’em to stumble: the fact that it happened to a company that was built on “slow and steady …” made them fall harder, with a thundering sound.

        Edward Deming was mentioned here, and again, there’s no denying his contribution to management and quality. But do consider that it’s not sufficient to just invoke a principle: it needs to be adapted to suit the environment and times. Deming does not inspire innovation; it is designed around age-old established principles. But times are changing. Buyers are changing and demanding what the guy across the street is offering.

        Deming also focuses on improving the product itself rather than relying upon the quality assurance feedback loop. Certainly a noble goal. But what is to tell a human how to categorize something that works but is badly designed? Juxtapose that with the lean manufacturing notion which invariably means an unwarranted adjustment to your assembly line, which can cause a $5 fix to become a $5 million headache. How do you handle that?

        Many thy to shove that under the rug, hoping that nothing happens, and they get away with it. Toyota tried to do just that, but got caught. As often happens, notably in politics, the principle grievance is not about what happened but about when you first found out and what you did.

        Just my two cents’ … any comments???

        I replied:

        Joseph, Glad that you enjoyed the exchanges, joined the debate and for ‘chipping in with your perspective’ as Nadeem said. That is one of the aspects that I enjoy about Social Media and especially LI that we can all have an honest, open exchange on any topic and offer advice and thoughts.

        1. There seems to have been pendemic failures across the management layer allowing them to lose control of the problem and when you only receive selected information at the top layer, informed decisions cannot be made, so it’s no surprise that the production was stopped. I listened to Toyoda’s address to the Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee, 24/2 and I couldn’t access any transcripts but it is proven by the excerpt from Time Online today – http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article7040371.ece :

        “The hearing uncovered glaring gaps in the company’s management structure which meant that safety concerns — and remedies — reported about Toyota cars in Europe and Japan were not shared with colleagues in the US, and information about them failed to filter up to top levels of management.”

        2. I agree, lessons will be learnt and Toyota will need to investigate in further detail the causes. Time Online reported:

        “New quality control standards would be put in place, as well as mechanisms to enable the company to pay closer attention to customer feedback, he said. SWAT teams would be created, charged with opening an investigation within 24 hours into every report of sudden unintended acceleration.”

        Nadeem, I really liked your summing up:

        “Many try to shove that under the rug, hoping that nothing happens, and they get away with it. Toyota tried to do just that, but got caught. As often happens, notably in politics, the principle grievance is not about what happened but about when you first found out and what you did.”

        Joseph and Nadeem, I accept that lessons can be learnt.

        I cannot accept however, how such a huge corporate cannot have any sense of social responsibility. I used the statistic of 19 people being killed (Time indicates at least 30). I am dumbfounded that Toyoda has offered a lame apology, in my opinion. Incidentally, I just read a retweeted Twitter message and responded:

        “@Spinnawitz Toyota congressional hearings not witch hunt or 4 DC 2 succeed. 2 c wat happened 2 avoid again. Lets recall 19 people died!”

        In the future, Toyota I am sure will regain its lost glory, Quality and safety may become exemplary but those 30 people that died will NEVER return!

        Toyota should have offered more than an apology and discussed compensation openly and honestly along with the apology. I will end for now by another excerpt from Time Online:

        “Mr Toyoda’s appearance was due, later in the evening to bring him face to face with Fe Lastrella, who was also giving evidence. Mark Saylor, her son-in-law, an off-duty California highway patrolman, was at the wheel of a rented Lexus when the accelerator pedal became jammed. The accident claimed four lives, including those of Ms Lastrella’s daughter, Cleofe, and granddaughter and son, when the car tore off the road at 120 mph and plunged into a canyon.

        In a 911 emergency call made from the car just before the crash, which has become for many the “smoking gun” of Toyota’s safety-related culpability, Ms Lastrella’s son, Chris, is heard saying, “We’re going north on 125 and our accelerator is stuck … we’re in trouble … there’s no brakes … we’re approaching the intersection … hold on … hold on and pray.”

        http://edition.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/24/toyota.hearing.updates/index.html?eref=edition

        25/2/10 – Frederic Gisbert replied:

        Joseph : Stooping the production line because big problems occurs (brakes and acceleration) instead of continuing to produce in the perspective of a latter fix is not a proof of managers’ courage . Indeed, it’s a matter of costs calculation :

        -1 In the first case, you can mobilized all the brains on the production problems (brainstorming with Pareto diagram and Ishikawa diagram)

        -2 In the second case, you pay people to make defaults and then afterward, you will pay the same one to correct the default (if possible once assembled : it depends on unknown root causes). So your problem take more time to be defined and every impacted article will cost the twice to the consumer (if you generously consider you will spend the same time and money to repair the defaults than you spent to create these defaults ! Not sure !)

        Lean Six Sigma (LSS) only permits to detect errors on the production line by making a difference between common errors (due to the production system conception) and special errors (due to misunderstanding, bad manipulation, etc). Lean Six Sigma means you measure every “standard error” (sigma) to calculate the dispersion of production events (the measured indicators) depending of your statistical model. Generally industrials used a “Gauss-Normal model” where all the measured values are supposed to be inside +3(sigma) and -3(sigma) around the average values. So in the production tendencies graphics (with time as the abscissa), you will define the Upper Limit Control = (average)+3(sigma) and Lower Limit Control = (average)-3(sigma)
        In a “Poisson model”, the rare events model, used to differentiate common incidents (inside the 6 sigma) and the special incidents (outside the 6 sigma), it’s the same. But here the calculation is more simple since (sigma)=3[SQRT](average_value). You only need to know the average value of your incidents ….

        In the current Toyota’s problem, the errors are inside the system and so were not predictable by LSS !! It’s to late to use LSS !!! LSS cannot help to solve common problems. LSS is just a part of the Deming’s therory. Certainly the most interesting part. But in that case, LSS will not help.

        That’s the managers’ responsibilities to solve this issues with the engineers. After the production lines processes are completely RE-conceived, you can apply again LSS to maintain a stable system.

        Hope I’m clear. It’s the first time I’m trying to explain some piece of Deming’s theory in English. My mother tongue is French. But as I said to Ahmed, the books are more explicit. I cannot simplify like this Deming.

        I replied:

        Fred, I appreciate you stepping in and replying to Joseph in much more detail than I could (as you know I have to study this area more).

        Don’t worry about your English, it is very good and it is noble of you to give your valuable time to this topic.

        I am really enjoying this debate, let’s see what happens next….

        Joseph added:

        Frederic:

        Exactly! You have hit the nail on the head. Someone (or some group) did a cost-benefit analysis and, although it would cost the company many, many dollars losses (wages, contracts, reputation, you name it), Toyota chose to stop the line. Not an easy decision for anyone, I argue, when one is dealing with a global company of this size and caliber.

        Second, you are right, the LSS process did not “signal” an error prior to the failure. So, instead of quality costs related to inspection or internal failure, we have external failures. Something changed (or perhaps was never properly considered) in the process and this condition was not properly accounted or anticipated. Hence the need to re-examine and fix the process.

        So, I think you and I are both “reading from the same script.”

        Thanks for your reply.

        Fred added:

        You’re right Joseph. Just a complement about cost losses regarding “reputation”. Deming did remember us that a good manager must also deal with “hidden numbers” and not only with financial analysis ! What does it mean ? “Hidden numbers” are some statistical realities like this :
        – A satisfied customer will talk positively about your products/services to 8 peoples around him, etc …
        – A unhappy customer will talk negatively about your products/services to 16 peoples around him, etc …

        16>8 !
        So the consequences for Toyota will be felt for many years. Can you imagine what will happen with all the customers’ circles (like my own brother) who must give back their cars to the Toyota’s garages for a security maintenance !

        That’s why in the production line processes, Deming always consider the most important thing is the customers. That’s why a reliable customers feedback system is more important than a “strategic cost reduction plan” or other “strategic reorganization”. In the Western management, we always prefer the second option because it’s more easy to deal with short term numbers. But inside some companies like Nintendo, Sony, Honda, Toyota(?) and also the US company Google, the users’ pleasure and happiness is the sole management goal (in the acts I mean, not only in the official speeches) ! And the money only arrives after …

        Cheers
        Frederic

        Craig Pennington, CISSP Network Engineer at NCAA added:

        A couple of add-on notes to the many great comments.

        1. The idea that Toyota has great production quality but lacks design quality is likely to be a mistatement. I strongly suspect they utilize a very strong process for designing quality into everything they do. There are some good models to use.

        2. Do not underestimate the goodwill that Toyota has built with their consumers over the course of many decades. This goodwill is going to pay them large dividends over the next 12 to 24 months. Just because they recalled millions of autos doesn’t mean that millions of consumers are going to abandon them. The vast, vast majority have had no problem at all and see Toyota showing a commitment to them by fixing the potential problems.

        3. I would agrue that this is not as clear cut as the news media and political pundits are making it sound. With hindsight being 20/20 one can always find fault. But at the same time that 19 people died, and let’s say some hundreds reported oddities, Toyota had millions of the same cars on the road with no problems at all. I do think there is a good agruement to be made by saying Toyota relied on this fact somewhat longer then they should have. At the same time when Toyota first heard about the issue a few years back they tried but were unable to replicate it.

        4. I would also argue that there is some good old fashioned politics going on here. When is the last time you saw GM shut down all the factories to be sure replacement parts get to current consumers and dealer stock first? I am surprised that even after shutting down and giving such a public demonstration of their commitment to safety and quality, that they still dragged Mr. Toyda before congress and give him such a hard time. I hear it is the first time a foreign head of a foreign company has ever been made to do so. The U.S. head has always been good enough in the past. Do you think perhaps this has something to do with the US government being the owner of the competition? I think so.

        Dwight Kayto FISM, PMP President and Senior Consultant, Art of Change added:

        Yes Toyota is having some challenges today. I believe they will prevail. Interesting how everyone hates the one on top and can’t wait to attack when the leader stumbles a bit.
        I drove mostly GM all my life and always had many repairs and lousy service most of the yime. Finally bought a 2005 Toyota Sienna and thus far (5+ years) I have replaced 1 headlight – that’s it!!!!
        So let’s not be too quick to villainize a company that achieves that level of quality.
        I have no doubt that if they made mistakes they will correct them. I would not hesitate to buy another Toyota.

        I concluded:

        Hi all,

        Many thanks to everyone who contributed and made this such a good debate. Craig, I believe you have made valid points as well and I think that this is not the end of this saga, we will all have to keep listening and and it will be interesting to see where it all ends.

        Dwight, I think you have captured the essence of the debate and it makes a good summary as you said, ‘I have no doubt that if they made mistakes they will correct them’.

        I would like to forward a special thank you to Frederic Gisbert for his knowledge and wisdom within this arena and without whose contribution the debate would not have been as interesting as it was.

        I conclude this discussion by adding that let time be the best judge!

  4. Steve McNeely says:

    I noticed that part of my comments were quoted, “exactly”. My thought was that I have been hearing from several sources, “We have a quality management system – I don’t need a safety management system”. My point was that if all you focus on is the TQM, with only concerns about the bottom line, then missing or “not connecting the dots” related to safety and production could be missed. This would apply to any industry. What happened at Toyota, could happen to any complex socio-technical industry or organization in New York minute. My article was intended to promote discussion, might actually be working?

  5. mubbisherahmed says:

    Steve, I feel quite privileged that you have visited my site and provided your comments. I apologise, it was late on Sunday night and I obviously missed the quotation marks. I have inserted the quotations now and the reason I inserted the quote as it was in the first place was that they were such a strong statement of facts that I just couldn’t have said it any better.

    Your article was thought provoking and very accurately captured what had actually transpired at Toyota. Indeed, as you said it could happen in any industry. I am thankful that you wrote that article and started that debate encouraging people such as me to dedicate some energy towards the past icon of quality in order that mankind can learn lessons so and it does not get repeated again!

    The current link to your, “Lessons learnt from Toyota”, article is linked to a Chinese site. Could you please send an English site link, if possible.

    Many thanks.

  6. mubbisherahmed says:

    Lynton Challoner Interim Manager at Jadepark Management Limited added on a social media site:

    I think the own goals are accumulating.

    I have a large reservoir of sympathy for people who make mistakes and ‘fess up, but what we have here is:

    1. A technology failure
    We are all now familiar with the nightmare scenario.
    The funny thing is, I recall this being ‘the nightmare scenario’ in the early ’80s being quoted by staggeringly patronising people (ie more so than I) as something the industry shall avoid by the use of mumble mumble methods (insert any you like, I’ve heard them all).

    2. A flawed Customer Services approach
    … which seems to me to be ‘the customer is always wrong’.

    3. A flawed escalation processes
    Incidents become Problems when there is enough evidence to warrant attempting a resolution. If it’s always Someone Elses Problem then it will never be appropriately tracked and escalated.

    4. Executive ambivalence
    If your top man (in a gender non-specific way) waffles in front of audience and then eventually caves in to pressure (or even appears to) you lose twice.
    Why do so many executives react innappropriately, to whit either playing down the issues or looking like hares in headlights ? It’s because they aren’t trained. This isn’t a theory I’ve checked. Go ask any executive the last time they went on a public relations course.

    Can they come back from this ? Of course they can.
    They have to show the public that they still make excellent value vehicles and that appropriate lessons were learned and appropriate action taken. And that they are sorry. (No I do not have one, no am not under the pay or necromantic practices of an evil PR department, I am just saying what they have to do). Of course if anybody uses the phrase ‘{blah} will never happen again’ they will fly apart from a sudden chronic lack of integrity.

    I replied:

    Lynton, I agree with you and in the xyz forum (Are you a member) we are having quite a lively debate (If you aren’t in that group, the debate has been posted on the blog under the comments section) as follows (Amended slightly for your response as its 215am and I am quite tired):

    There seems to have been pendemic failures across the management layer allowing them to lose control of the problem and when you only receive selected information at the top layer, informed decisions cannot be made, so it’s no surprise that the production was stopped. I listened to Toyoda’s address to the Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee, 24/2 and I couldn’t access any transcripts but it is proven by the excerpt from Time Online today –

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article7040371.ece :

    “The hearing uncovered glaring gaps in the company’s management structure which meant that safety concerns — and remedies — reported about Toyota cars in Europe and Japan were not shared with colleagues in the US, and information about them failed to filter up to top levels of management.”

    I agree, lessons will be learnt and Toyota will need to investigate in further detail the causes. Time Online reported:

    “New quality control standards would be put in place, as well as mechanisms to enable the company to pay closer attention to customer feedback, he said. SWAT teams would be created, charged with opening an investigation within 24 hours into every report of sudden unintended acceleration.”

    Nadeem, I really liked your summing up:

    “Many try to shove that under the rug, hoping that nothing happens, and they get away with it. Toyota tried to do just that, but got caught. As often happens, notably in politics, the principle grievance is not about what happened but about when you first found out and what you did.”

    Joseph and Nadeem, I accept that lessons can be learnt.

    I cannot accept however, how such a huge corporate cannot have any sense of social responsibility. I used the statistic of 19 people being killed (Time indicates at least 30). I am dumbfounded that Toyoda has offered a lame apology, in my opinion. Incidentally, I just read a retweeted Twitter message and responded:

    “@Spinnawitz Toyota congressional hearings not witch hunt or 4 DC 2 succeed. 2 c wat happened 2 avoid again. Lets recall 19 people died!”

    In the future, Toyota I am sure will regain its lost glory, Quality and safety may become exemplary but those 30 people that died will NEVER return!

    Toyota should have offered more than an apology and discussed compensation openly and honestly along with the apology. I will end for now by another excerpt from Time Online:

    “Mr Toyoda’s appearance was due, later in the evening to bring him face to face with Fe Lastrella, who was also giving evidence. Mark Saylor, her son-in-law, an off-duty California highway patrolman, was at the wheel of a rented Lexus when the accelerator pedal became jammed. The accident claimed four lives, including those of Ms Lastrella’s daughter, Cleofe, and granddaughter and son, when the car tore off the road at 120 mph and plunged into a canyon.

    In a 911 emergency call made from the car just before the crash, which has become for many the “smoking gun” of Toyota’s safety-related culpability, Ms Lastrella’s son, Chris, is heard saying, “We’re going north on 125 and our accelerator is stuck … we’re in trouble … there’s no brakes … we’re approaching the intersection … hold on … hold on and pray.”

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/24/toyota.hearing.updates/index.html?eref=edition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: