The Lean Insider

How does Toyota think? Good insight into the answer comes from two recent experiences I’ve had. One was hearing a speech with a Toyota executive; last night the other was reading the cover tale in THE BRAND NEW York Times Mag. The story, compiled by Jon Gertner, carries the headline “How Toyota Conquered the engine car World.” Gertner gets it right. He focuses not on methods, or tools, but overall strategy and strategy.

The article won’t teach you the details of the Toyota Production System – that is not Gertner’s intent – but it is a good historical profile of how Toyota developed and what the business is all about. I also encountered the perfect embodiment of Toyota thinking while I heard a conversation delivered at the recent Automotive News World Congress in Michigan by Jim Lentz, professional vice leader of Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Lentz was not the only sales or marketing person to speak at the function. For instance, Mike Jackson, vice leader of marketing & advertising for GM THE UNITED STATES, delivered an entertaining presentation on GM’s latest advertising approaches and its own use of a range of media. But even though he is in sales, Lentz did not discuss advertising.

He didn’t talk about marketing. He didn’t discuss mass media, new or old. He said nothing about sales. And he even said very little about the product. Lentz talked about customers. He spoke at duration about demographic styles, and what Toyota views as the five generations of customers – “traditionals,” seniors, and decades X, Z, and Y – who’ll all be seeking different things in vehicles. He discussed what he called the “new urbanism,” meaning the trend of people moving into major cities back, and how that has effects on what people want in vehicles.

He talked about the strong motion toward living much healthier and more environmentally conscious lives, which Toyota calls LOHAS – Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability. This has a direct effect both on product – i.e., the demand for “green” vehicles such as hybrids – and on the necessity for Toyota to be a good corporate resident.

And Lentz discussed your time and effort Toyota makes to comprehend its customers. You name it and it was done by them. I’m discussing customer visits to… construction sites… mining camps… ranches… farms… truck stops… tack stores… drilling operations… car carrier companies… and even the world’s largest snowplow manufacturer. We also sent them out for two weeks at the right amount of time in 5th-wheel trailers on 1,000-mile camping journeys where they did what typical American households do on vacation.

They also spent time with personal and recreational use truckers… noticed truck hitches installed… hopped into cabs of big rigs… and even drank stale coffee in out-of-the-way diners. They do everything they could to reside in the shoes of work customers and then used that knowledge in developing another Tundra.

For example… during ranch visits… they noticed the difficulty drivers encountered while coating up their tow hitch with trailers they wished to pull. Many needed someone else on hands merely to guide them through the procedure. Do all motor car companies send their people out on these types of road trips?

  • Book Keeper
  • 6 years back from New Jersey
  • 8 years back from 41042
  • Out of the Park Baseball 20
  • If ready, then it would be deployed to production after OK from CTO
  • Only if you are welcomed to aid (Here, exceptions do exist)
  • 64% of B2B customers want planned deliveries

I’d be amazed if they do. But possibly the most sharing with point was when Lentz observed that, while Toyota this season is celebrating its 50th wedding anniversary of doing business in the us, it wasn’t always a great success here. The first product presented in the us, the Toyopet Crown sedan, was a flop.

“That fact is never definately not my thoughts,” said Lentz. “I’ve a framed original brochure of that 1957 sedan hanging in my own office. A never-ending concentrate on the customer coupled with a relentless perseverance to avoid complacency rather than be satisfied. That’s what a low-fat strategy is focused on – and that’s the reason Toyota has indeed conquered the car world.

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