The Toyota "Crisis" -- Is it the Problem or the Response?

I’m sure all lean practitioners and advocates are quite dismayed and disappointed with the continual reports of Toyota’s problems with their accelerators and braking systems emanating from all the news outlets. Of course, unfortunately, the current situation has also provided endless fodder for sarcastic sniping throughout the blogosphere. Although I think these current woes in no way repudiate Toyota’s noted production philosophy and culture or its massive accomplishments during the past 50 years, the credibility issues cannot be ignored. When reading or watching the news coverage, one realizes that the central topics -- Toyota’s equipment failures and its supply-chain process – have been overtaken by the debate of whether Toyota’s response to the crisis has been clear, timely, and at least adequate.

I’d very much like to hear the opinions of this blog’s audience – Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with Toyota’s response to this crisis? How has this crisis been affecting Toyota’s reputation? Do you think many business leaders and pundits will co-opt this crisis as an opportunity to wrongly declare that ultimately lean methodologies are critically flawed? Most importantly, what do you think Toyota can learn from its own lauded production system during this time?

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I have been resisting writing about the Toyota case because so little is actually know about the defect itself, and cause and effect isn't clear. But I have been getting enough questions about it. I don't think this changes anything about Toyota's success. They still have dramatically fewer recalls than others. And of course no one that knows lean would say they were anything close to perfect.

I did write up some of my thoughts and lessons in observing the story on my blog here: http://jamieflinchbaugh.com/2010/02/the-fall-of-the-mighty-toyota/