Toyota as Homebuilder

Topic: Management Improvement

Toyota Home – Applying the Toyota Production System to Home Building (broken link removed) from Evolving Excellence

Toyota is all about cars and trucks, right? Not quite. I was just pointed to the Toyota Home page on Toyota’s website, which briefly describes Toyota’s activities in the home building industry.

From Toyota’s web site:

Toyota Home – building 21st century comfort and luxury into houses in Japan. Come inside and see for yourself.

Concentrating the knowledge and technology of the Toyota Group to the housing business, Toyota’s house making is based on the “Skeleton & Infill” approach. Based on careful consideration of customer lifestyles, three different structures have been developed for the Toyota Home line-up.

I often find myself wishing I could deal with Toyota instead of whatever company I am getting poor results from. The Evolving Excellence post mentions “Lean Construction is not really new.” Not only that, queuing theory, lean thinking (in general), customer focus and process improvement are not unformed concepts that need a great deal of work before they can be applied in the real world.

Still many organizations don’t apply many concepts that have been proven effective for decades. So I hope Toyota gets into any business that continues to provide lousy value to the consumer (at least those where that consumer is me). I wish they would create their own credit card (they offer Toyota branded Visa and MasterCard credit cards now, in Japan), provide high speed internet service and run an airline.

Toyota is probably too smart to try and run an airline in the US (only Southwest seems to be able to that profitably). I believe there is a good chance they will manufacturer airplane components and other transportation areas (mass transit, personal transportation, shipping etc.). The transportation area is where it seems to me expansion into new businesses makes the most sense.

On the Toyota web site they list the following areas of non-automotive Toyota business: financial services, information and communications, marine and most surprisingly Biotechnology and Afforestation. Toyota states: “Biotechnology may seem far removed from the auto industry. It is, however, closely related to automaking in the context that they are both aiming to achieve a sustainable society, and their close relationship can be seen in the new Raum, launched in May 2003, which uses parts made from bioplastics.”

Even with Toyota’s explanation the biotechnology business seems like a business with little connection to their existing operations to me.

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