Today, I watched some of the Congressional testimony of Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota, and Yoshimi Inaba, chief operating officer for North America.
First off, as to how to respond to the Toyota recall from a Lean perspective, I'm essentially in agreement with Mark Graban over at Lean Blog, who pithily says what needs to be said. Here's his post regarding today's testimony. And obviously, my sympathy goes out to those hurt in vehicle accidents and their families. But I trust our tort system will do a fair job of compensating any victims and punishing any wrongdoers. For purposes of assessing fault, these hearings seemed premature.
Instead, the most fascinating thing for me is the chance to see inside Toyota as an organization. If Toyota failed to get things right -- and the executives seem to have admitted as much -- we have the opportunity to learn why -- really why, and not just hear spin from various factions or carefully crafted press releases.
Just given the incredibly public nature of this inquiry, we are likely to learn a lot. But more importantly, unlike many organizations, Toyota has clearly articulated standards, making deviations from the standard more apparent. With a solid basis for comparison -- a theoretical ideal serving as a control -- we stand to gain real insight.
D. Mark Jackson