An independent panel reviewed Toyota quality practices as they relate to the brake and sticky pedal issues that led to massive recalls of Toyota vehicles in 2009 and 2010. The report is a lengthy one, but has some key learning for us: some might be surprising and some might not be. In either case, as the company that systematized the Toyota Production System, it is informative that we learn from the mistakes of such an admired company.
This is also a reminder for the rest of us that we ought not idolize any one company, but instead choose to learn from the good and from the bad from many companies, remembering that, like people, no company is perfect. Yes, even Toyota.
The Report of the Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel was led by the following panel members:
- Rodney Slater: U.S. Secretary of Transportation, 1997-2001.
- Roger Martin: Dean of the Rotman School of Management.
- Norman Augustine: Former Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.
- Brian O’Neill: Former President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Patricia Goldman: Former Vice Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board.
- Dr. Shella Widnall: Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force.
- Dr. Mary Good: Dean of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and former Under Secretary for Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce.
Please read our series on the findings from the Toyota Quality Advisory Board:
- Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel Conclusions: The high-level summary of the findings from the quality advisory panel.
- Balance Between Local and Global Management Control: How can Toyota best balance decision making between Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and its regional operations in the North America and the world?
- Responses to Problems Raised by Internal and External Sources: The panel found that problems raised by sources external to Toyota were not treated as seriously as those found within Toyota. The panel claims that this violates the tenets of the Toyota Production System.
- Management Responsibility for Quality and Safety: Because Toyota treated Safety as a subset of Quality, the panel believes that this has led to the blurring of the lines and makes the question Who is Responsible? more difficult to answer; consequently, this has led to the old adage of if everyone is responsible, then nobody is accountable.
- The Challenges of Integrating Electronics and Software: Has the integration of software led to safety problems?
- Management of Supplier Product Quality: As Toyota becomes more and more decentralized, has Toyota maintained the rigorous supplier quality requirements it once had?
Over the next several posts, I’ll highlight the panel’s key findings and attempt to generalize those findings for the rest of us. In so doing, I hope that alongside a company we all admire, we can learn also and improve as appropriate.