Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Can You Learn From TOYOTA?

I just read the article about Toyota, titled The Contradictions That Drive Toyota's Success by Hirotaka Takeuchi, Emi Osomo and Norihiko Shimizu. On the Harvard Business Review, June 2008.

It is a great article that provides a lot useful information. What amazes me about Toyota is that they keep everything as simple as possible, but its behavior contradicts what a large organization typically does. Here are some of their beliefs:

  • Never being satisfied. But setting impossible goals Toyota's employees push to achieve they very best.
  • Everybody should win. A true win-win: Customers, dealers, company, employees and management.
  • Toyota trains its employees in solving problems, Toyota invests in its employees for the long term, if the company needs to cut cost, they will cut cost except lay off its workforce.
  • Employees play mentor roles.
  • Toyota allows information to flow freely, up and down the hierarchy.
  • Toyota give people the freedom to VOICE CONTRARY OPINION. When was the last time you had this freedom at work without fearing repercussions? Employees feel safe, even empowered to voice contrary opinions and are able to contradict superior.

Can American companies compete against Toyota and be profitable? I believe so, however, it will be extremely difficult because the Toyota way can't be simply copy and paste. Toyota is a culture and as every culture it needs to grow, people must believe in it and it takes a long time to be nurtured. Will companies' share holders have the patience? Only time will tell.

I encourage you to read the article, you will learn something and apply it to your business.