"JANUARY 27, 2010 AsiaWallStreet Journal - Toyota Sales Halt Raises Quality Questions"
This is a very interesting and meaningful story. Toyota. A name synonymous with Quality and Excellence for decades is suddenly mired in a struggle of trying to clear its name of shoddy quality and, more importantly, safety products! This is a gigantic accusation that Toyota, the newly installed world biggest automobile company after taking over from General Motor (GM) of the USA last year, does not need nor want!
As the story unfolded thus far, the key question seems to be on: Has Toyota sacrifice Quality and Safety in the singular pursuit of expanding its global market share and sales to become the World No. 1 Automobile company?
The President of the company who was installed in June 2009, Mr. Akio Toyoda, the 53-year old great-grandson of Toyota founder, said in the first press conference after taking over said: the company erred in the last decade in the push to become the world No. 1 car maker and drifted away from its core value of focusing on the customers!
He said it was not wrong to pursue the goal of being the biggest car maker in the world but they might have stretched more than they should have!
Lessons for me are:
1. when you want to be No. 1, you must always check back on your core values. If you push your people overboard and refused to listen to 'challenges and difficulties' by people who had been producing sterling results for you, you are NOT being an effective leader! You are NOT responding properly to 'real' issues. This may well be the start of the long slow tumble and fall!;
2. it was obvious that the then President, Mr. Watanabe, tried to give more time to the engineers to solve some sticky problems identified during the product development process according to what was written in this news piece. At the same time, there seems to be some NEW products that were NOT on plan being produced! It is strange to me that a company with a vigorous and robust systematic way of introducing a new product would have gone into such an ad hoc mode. Again, maybe the pressure to produce new models to grab market share and become No. 1 were occupying 'top of mind' position in the product engineers?;
3. I am not sure if Toyota at that stage was prepared to 'listen to truthful feedback about the challenges and difficulties' the engineers were facing with the quality and safety issues. If the leaders were NOT prepared to listen to the 'bearer of "bad news"!', then it is not surprising that this problem surfaced much later and is now costing Toyota billion of dollar to recall the 'flawed vehicles' as it numbered in the million units! In the USA, and now spreading to the Europe market. I wondered what was the 'bonuses given out for achieving the "stretched out goal of churning out more vehicles than GM" were' vs. this multi-billion recall cost, excluding the intangible damage to the gilt-edge Toyota's Quality and Safety brand!!
Toyota is obviously still one of the best car makers in the world. This saga just tell us that: there is no room for complacency when you are or want to be No. 1. To achieve consistent and sustainable success, we must continuously engage in renewal and remind ourselves that there are always room for improvement!
May Toyota survived this crisis and emerged stronger and more committed to it's core values of focusing on customer besides wanting to be the No. 1 car marker in the world!