< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: Trusting Toyota

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trusting Toyota

Good blog over here by Chet Richards who knows his way around some Boyd.

I like the post, but one thing I don't understand is why Chet is so insistent on singing the praises of Toyota production and their maneuver theory. Toyota hasn't used maneuver theory successfully in the past decade, at least.

Toyota's quality has of course suffered greatly over that decade. But their market share hasn't suffered, it's substantially increased at the expense of other makers. Their share price hasn't suffered in that time period either, it has doubled! What is the economic rationale when your product becomes worse and worse but your profits get greater and greater?

Toyota's use of maneuver theory simply gave the company a solid foundation on which to springboard into a global giant. Nothing Toyota does today is done without express political calculation and the implicit subordination of quality design to sustainable profits.

Toyota has followed the exact course of the American auto makers. Their pie got so big that to increase it meant letting the heavies move in and get their beaks wet too. American autos used to be every bit as reliable, safe, and sophisticated as today's imports. But their financial success carried a tax on it which caused them to subvert quality in order to uplift political expediency. The same is happening with Toyota now.

The same can be said for Boeing. They "use" the Toyota production "system", but that system has been subordinated to a different goal than what Chet expects.

This is all a tangent to what Chet is talking about, and what he is talking about is good so go give it a read. But I wish he would stop holding Toyota up on a pedestal. The auto business, for them, is no longer about quality but about keeping the status quo.