Sunday, January 18, 2009

Long Term Goals

I was walking past a small Toyota car dealer and service shop in Tokyo on Friday morning. I saw a typical Japanese morning meeting being held on the shop floor. I became wondering what might the manager be saying to his staff when

Car sales are falling, exchange rates work against Toyota, and the company expects to post an operating loss for the first time since 1938.

I became curious and checked the importance of this kind of morning meetings in Japanese Business Culture.

Many Japanese businesses start their day off with a morning meeting, where workers line up and chant the company's slogans as a way of inspiring motivation and loyalty, and as a means of keeping the company's goals fresh in their minds.

Obiously Toyota's growth goal must be changed, while staying bigger than GM is still a valid goal.

Toyota is known for their quality and innovation, and I bet that is one thing the manager is stressing his team. They have several other guiding principles that also remain valid.

Toyota's quality and innovation reminded me about an excellent book I read last year - Elegant Solutions: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation

Matthew E. May starts the book by noting that Toyota implements 1 million ideas each year. He continues, Do the math: 3000 ideas a day. That number, more than anything else, explains why Toyota appears to be in a league all their own, playing offense on a field of innovation, while their competitors remain caught in a crossfire of cost-cutting.

Here’s the thing: it’s not about the cars. It’s about ideas. And the people with those ideas. But not just any ideas. Mostly tiny ones, but effective ones nonetheless—elegant solutions to real world problems. Not grand slam homeruns, but groundball singles implemented all across the company by people that view their role not to be simply doing the work, but taking it to the next level…every day, in some little way. Good enough never is. When an entire organization thinks like that, it becomes unstoppable.

There is pleanty of material in the book for my future blog posts. But for the time being the ChangeThis Manifesto below gives you a good overview of the ideas on the book.

You can find the original ChangeThis Manifesto here.