Experience is often gained by making mistakes, however, we don’t have to repeat them for the sake of experience. This is one of the reasons I decided to read “Toyota Under Fire” by Jeffrey K. Liker and Timothy N. Ogden. Aside from the many positive reviews this book has already received, it claims to present “The definitive inside account of Toyota’s greatest crisis – and lesson you can apply to your own company.”
Just as interesting though are two very strong statements or “subtitles” that appear on the front cover. At first I thought these statements were quite bold considering that Toyota’s most troubling times are not that far behind us:
- Lessons For Turning Crisis Into Opportunity, and
- How Toyota Faced the Challenges of the Recall and the Recession to Come Out Stronger
I don’t think any company would savor the opportunity to experience the crises that Toyota has been subjected to over the past few years. It is certainly easier and much cheaper to learn from the experiences and “mistakes” of others. Each crisis that Toyota faced was compounded by the presence of new ones, namely,
- Sudden Acceleration concerns and the recall of over 10 million vehicles,
- Enduring significant media and government scrutiny while being subject to the most intensive investigation in many years,
- Defamation of the Toyota brand and loss of consumer confidence in the company and it’s products, and
- An economic downturn that affected every manufacturer around the world.
These were certainly very difficult times and the lessons to be learned from them are sure to be of value to every business. In the typical Toyota style, they once again have opened the doors to share their lessons learned – an opportunity that few companies dare to offer.
The statements supporting this book imply that successes have already been realized. I, like you, would be more than a little concerned if these were Self-Proclaimed statements issued by Toyota’s leadership. The good news is they aren’t.
An article published in the Toronto Star, “Toyota Bags 3rd Consecutive Reader’s Digest ‘Most Trusted Brand’ Award“, presents the best endorsement of all – it’s from us – the consumer. The Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands program awarded Toyota ‘Most Trusted Passenger Car Brand” for the third year in a row and the 2011 Most Trusted Hybrid Brand.
Toyota is the number selling car brand in Canada and is recognized for having the most fuel-efficient car fleet and providing the greatest value to customers. I was surprised to learn that 80% of Toyota’s sold in the past 20 years are still on the road.
Respect is Earned
As the expression goes, “Respect is Earned”. I contend that the same is true for Trust. Perhaps the realization that Toyota is as concerned about people, employees and customers alike, that the very culture that defines the company has extended to its customers as well.
As such, Toyota’s resilience and sustainability through these crises is further evidence of the unique and powerful culture upon which the company itself was founded. I’m excited by the opportunity to learn more about this amazing company. Toyota Under Fire will certainly prove to be a good read.
Until Next Time – STAY lean!