The following article by the Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda outlines the renewed focus Toyota has on quality. It’s called “Back to Basics for Toyota” and was published in the Wall Street Journal opinion section today.
Toyota is testifying in front of congress today for quality missteps that have rarely happened before. The quality of their product has been second to none for decades and clearly is what differentiated them in the market place. Mr. Toyoda apologizes for these missteps and outlines what is in store for the future at Toyota.
This is a great example of how flawed strategy can lead to disastrous outcomes. Toyota still has the best quality improvement system in the world(The Toyota Production System). But when senior leaders at Toyota decided a few years ago to become the biggest car company in the world they abandoned their core principles according to Mr. Toyoda, “When my grandfather brought Toyota into the auto business in 1937, he created a set of principles that has always guided how we operate. We call it the Toyota Way, and its pillars are “respect for people” and “continuous improvement.” I believe in these core principles. And I am convinced that the only way for Toyota to emerge stronger from this experience is to adhere more closely to them.”
Because of the strength of the the Toyota culture and the Toyota Production System methodology the company will survive and prosper again but the lesson for the rest of us is that strategy not consistent with an organization’s core principles can have markedly negative consequences. The real question is what is the standard work necessary for leaders to avoid these types of culturally inconsistent decisions in the future?