Why I’m mourning for Toyota

Filed under Lessons Learned | Posted by PMStudent

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the recent news with Toyota.

Crying about Toyota by prakhar via Flickr

by prakhar via Flickr

Recalls happen.? It’s a statistical certainty that companies are going to have recalls from time to time.? Usually it’s something minor in nature but recently Toyota has had multiple issues regarding accelerators sticking and potential braking system issues.

The part I’m in mourning about are reports that Toyota required extensive outside pressure to act in some cases.? These are big safety issues.

According to US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, when government officials spoke to the North American offices of Toyota they were unresponsive.? It took a trip to Japan in order to get some attention on the issue.? I feel the icon Toyota once was for me is now tainted.? Did I just have an unrealistic view of the company and their operations before?

My questions are as follows:

  1. Why didn’t a company who is touted for kaizen have a feedback mechanism in place so they were the first to know about the problems?
  2. What institutional processes are broken that made Toyota a bit “safety deaf” according to LaHood?? This isn’t a matter of individual mistakes, the results indicate organizational process deficiencies.
  3. What happened and what lessons should we learn from recent events?

I’m looking forward to your opinions in the comments section.