Toyota has for decades been synonymous with Manufacturing Excellence. The Toyota Production System has been highly influential as a role model for companiesworld wide, and as a key inspiration for the Lean concept. In 2009 Toyota lost money and market share. Why
2009 Toyota lost money for the first time since 1950. Obviously it was not only due to the finance crisis, the market share also declined and the independent quality ratings also dropped. What went wrong - and why?
These important questions now start to appear in the international business press. Latest in the acknowledged magazine "The Economist", which in December cleared the front page announcing "Toyota slips up".
Inside the magazine the situation and the causes are described. The Economist out line the following main reason for the decline: "Toyota's rivals have caught up. They now offer cars that are just as reliable, but far more exiting than the rather dull vehicles Toyota has concentrated on producing in ever larger number".
However it is recommended by the magazine to continue the already de-cided way out of the mess: "Toyota has a good chance of putting things right. It is no GM, which had far deeper struc-tural problems before it used bank-ruptcy to offload some of them. It has a boss, Akio Toyoda, who understands what has gone wrong - namely, that it has jeopardised its formerly stellar reputation for quality by pursuing vol-ume at all costs and by failing to put the needs of the customers first. It has started to sort out some of its problems. Quality and reliability are getting back up to the mark. Now it needs to make more exiting and innovative cars."
I believe that most of us can learn from the Toyota case. As for NFF we have come to the following reflections:
Do not believe anyone who says that "To be successful we must just do like the very successful company X. And the receipt is Y. And it is described in details in book Z".
E.g: X = Toyota, Y = Lean, Z = "The Toyota way". The life is fortunately far more unpredictable and complex, and organisations far more dynamic.
The best organisations strive for "Excellence" - and not only for "Manufacturing Excellence". Ex-cellence can be defined as "achieve and sustain superior levels of performance that meet or exceed the expectations of their stakeholders".
Consequently, the best organisa-tions build and improve their own Business System - not just Pro-duction system. And they build their own model for Continuous Business Improvement across the whole business system - not just lean, six sigma or another in a half religious and ready-for-use tool package.
My New Year Resolution shall be on a frequent basis to remind myself of Peter Drucker: "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself".
I hereby wish every one of you a happy new year - full of refreshed thinking, acting and harvesting.