Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Toyota Under Fire by Jeffrey K. Liker and Timothy N. Ogden

I know it sounds silly but I found myself having read 50 pages and never jotting down a single item.  I literally lost myself in this book.
The first 60 pages discuss how Toyota's culture and operations allowed it ride out out the recession and become stronger for it.
The remainder covers the issue of sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) and the Toyota recalls that followed.
It reads like an episode of Law & Order.  I loved it.
Read this book if you want to know the true facts about the recall and why the culture of problem solving at Toyota unintentionally caused so much angst in Americans.
It also covers how Toyota is changing they way they listen to customers by also understanding their worries and concerns.
The last few pages covers "Lessons" from the crisis.  The book is worth reading just for these few pages of wisdom.
The book is a fascinating compilation of data and facts that obliterates all the fallacy and myth about the recall.
After reading the book I Googled (Saylor sudden acceleration) and it's amazing the number of articles that contain so much false or misleading information about what was really happening at the time.
Just as Liker and Ogden say, some of the news pieces written appear to be based on innuendo, opinion and in some cases pure fiction.  There was very little fact finding or discovery going on by the media.  They just seemed to report everything that someone else said.

"Who dunnit?"  It was an improperly secured floor mat but public opinion didn't want to believe it and some still don't.
I wrote the next 2 segments in the hopes that people browsing the web for the real cause of the accident will find this and give themselves some closure.  The book covers the below excerpt in about 6 pages but I wanted everyone to pay special attention to it so I gave it a louder voice in this review.
A few days before the Saylor family climbed into a dealer loaner and crashed,  another person named Frank Bernard using the exact same vehicle had an almost identical experience.
Frank Bernard was using the same car a few days before the Saylors and had the accelerator pedal stick causing him to speed to between 80 - 85 mph.  He used the brake to get down to about 25-30 mph and shift into neutral on the side of the road.  He turned off the car, got out and removed the floor mat and went about his day.
Upon returning to the dealership he informed the receptionist what happened.  Bernard assumed that the receptionist would pass the info along....the receptionist thought that Bernard would tell the service technician.  Three days later Mark Saylor and his family would get the car as a loaner and die in a crash.
The report is 29 pages so I've summarized the main points with the page numbers so you can read for yourself.
  • The floor mat is indicated as being a possible cause ( p 14 - 15)
  • How floor mats are stored and installed at Bob Baker Dealership (p 16 - 18)
  • Recreation of pedal sticking (p 19 - 20)
  • Frank Bernards story and the story from the receptionist (p 21 -23)
By the time I was done reading all of "Toyota Under Fire" I was asking myself 2 questions.
  1. Why does American culture desire conspiracy fueled by speculation as opposed to searching for facts?
  2. How can I get a job at Toyota?
My favorite piece is a personal one.
"Akio Toyoda often cites Jim Collins's book "How the Mighty Fall" to remind listeners that Toyota is not immune from mistakes and problems....That fourth stage is where Toyota's actions diverge from Collins's model.  Those are the actions of a company that does not have, or does not have faith in, a strong culture.  Toyota did not do any of these things.  What Toyota has done is follow the recipe that Collins advocates: old-fashioned management virtues such as determination, discipline, calmness under pressure, and strategic decision making based on careful sifting of the evidence."  Toyota followed the Toyota Way!

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