When I last wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek about Toyota, there had been two recalls that covered nearly 5 million vehicles, but it seemed to me tht the actual defects were small. Don’t get me wrong: People had died and others were claiming to be injured, which is as serious as it gets.In my mind, however, those specific problems—and even the subsequent discovery of brake problems in the hybrid Prius—were far from an indictment of Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing processes. Journalists were wildly speculating about why Toyota quality had gone downhill, blaming too-rapid growth, cost-cutting, and weaknesses in the philosophy of the Toyota Way. “This is nuts, ” I thought.
The week unfolded with new revelations, including complaints by government safety agencies that Toyota (TM) is secretive and criticism that the company had dragged its heels after safety problems were indicated. On reflection (the Japanese call this hansei), I realized that I never studied how Toyota reacts to safety concerns. I had just been guessing, based on experience that I have had with the high integrity of Toyota executives. The question I have since shaped is not what I know or do not know, but how Toyota should respond to what’s become a crisis in customer trust.
Full story: What Should Toyota Do Now? – BusinessWeek