Toyotathon of Death?

February 3, 2010

I’ve been thinking about the Toyota recall lately (I drive one, but it wasn’t affected by the floor mat or gas pedal recall). Of course, I do not know all the information or what happened behind the scenes at Toyota. But what I did notice was something that you probably have heard about how Toyota operates and now you can see it in practice. I heard the phrase “Think slow and act fast” referring to how Toyota addresses situations.

Just think what they were up against. You make the decision to recall all of the cars affected (over 2 million). Now you have to have a plan to fix these cars. And yes, we need the parts to do this. We have to contact the owners. We have to prepare the dealers for the influx of repairs. In the meantime, we will shutdown production. And stop selling those models ofor now. How will this affect our dealers? Our employees? Our customers? Our market share? And on and on and on… Yes there seems to be a lot to think about. And now they have to act.

Time will tell how this will affect Toyota overall. I personally think that they will come out of this stronger than before. They will most likely loose some market share in the meantime. This reminds me of the 1982 Tylenol recall when the decision was made to remove the entire product from the shelves. This was costly, but it was the right thing to do and made the company stronger in the long run. “Tylenol made a hero of Johnson & Johnson.”

Some people will try to use this as an excuse to not pursue Lean. They’re missing the point. This mistake (and it’s a big one) does not mean to scrap your Lean initiatives. It’s a reminder that quality is an essential part of Lean.

For fun, you can watch a clip from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the Toyotathon of Death To watch on hulu.com (starts at 1:25) go to:  

To watch video>>The Daily Show  with Jon Stewart –  Toyotathon of Death

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