The Toyota Way: Take Time to Study, Then Implement with Speed


I like the way that David Magee, the author of “How Toyota Became #1:  Leadership Lessons from the World’s Greatest Car Company”, opened the ninth chapter of his book with the statement “making decisions is not nearly as important a making the right decisions.”

This statement is an encapsulation of the theme of the chapter, which is a description of the typical Toyota decision-making process.   It is based on collected facts, which take time to gather and properly assess.   This means that its decisions are not hastily made based on individual opinions.   However, this does not mean that Toyota is a conservative company that moves slowly.    After all the time is taken to gather facts and reach consensus, Toyota moves more quickly to implement those decisions than its competitors do.

1.  Move Forward Step by Step

Although Toyota entered the American market in 1957, it was only when it introduced its first vehicle designed specifically for the American market, the Corona, that the company starting becoming recognized for its well-built and reliable cars.    The Big 3 American car manufacturers took notice of Toyota as perhaps carving itself a niche in the American market, but they didn’t consider them as serious rivals on the same par as themselves.

However, by 1975, Toyota had passed Volkswagen to become the leading U.S. import.    Political pressure from the U.S. government to the Japanese government about the Japanese trade deficit with the United States led to pressure in turn on Japanese manufacturers to start building their products in America.    Toyota was not sure if its practice of kaizen or continuous improvement, which was nurtured in the national character of Japan and the regional character of Toyota’s headquarters in Toyota City, would translate to manufacturing facilities on American soil that were manned by American workers.

The way that Toyota researched and implemented the decision to create manufacturing plants in America can serve as an illustration of Toyota’s decision-making methods.

2.  Gather Facts Firsthand

 

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