Fear Remains a Toyota Motivator

First, don’t let the title fool you, this is not an indication Toyota is going against Deming’s obligation of management to “Drive out fear and build trust so that everyone can work effectively”. Deming was talking about driving out the fear management creates for employees intentionally (forced ranking…) and un-intentionally (creating a climate where people are more fearful of pointing out problems than just ignoring them…). See: Deming and Toyota.

This article is talking about Toyota’s never ending quest to do better. At least in North America we seem biased toward putting that quest for doing better negatively. Rather than being drawn to improve it is most often stated as being scared that if we don’t we will have to pay for failing to improve. Thus the reference to fear.

Fear Remains a Toyota Motivator [the broken link was removed] by Harry Stoffer, Automotive News.
The article is worth reading:

“We are kind of paranoid,” says Dennis Cuneo, senior vice president of Toyota Motor North America Inc. “You’re going along, and things are going quite well, and you’re always thinking: ‘What could go wrong?'”

He calculates that Toyota spends about 1.3 percent of revenue on warranty claims. That’s less than half the rate of General Motors and Ford Motor Co., he says.

Barkai cites Toyota’s ability to use data to identify and fix problems quickly. That feature is rooted in the Toyota Production System.

“Once they make a decision, the entire organization realigns itself around the decision,” Barkai says.

Jeffrey Liker, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan, has studied Toyota for 20 years. He says the discipline Toyota imposes on its growing number of suppliers helps the company maintain its quality record.

Liker says there was evidence four or five years ago that Toyota quality was starting to slip. The company made a priority of finding and eliminating those problems, he says.

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