Why Is Toyota so Reliable!?
Toyota is notoriously one of the most reliable car manufacturers in the world- a status coveted by most of the auto industry. You are probably familiar with the most reliable Toyota models, such as the Camry and the Corolla. These cars have been around for decades and continue to sell because they can be trusted.
What it is about the Japanese manufacturing giant that makes the brand so reliably impressive and impressively reliable?
Reliability matters. Toyota values reliability more than it values excitement, and that’s a good thing in this case.
Gradual upgrades. When the automaker is ready to roll out redesigns and new features, they do so methodically and slowly.
Reinvestment. The automaker is already profitable, and it doesn’t waste this advantage. Toyota puts its profits toward investing in additional engineers and other workers who can improve part quality. With this constant investment, reliability is increased. We know we are always getting top quality when we shop Toyota, and if we fear there is something better ahead, we know Toyota is either working it into production or dreaming it into reality. The public’s confidence in Toyota’s reliability further increases profits, dumping more money into the investment that triggers reliability. It is cyclical, and Toyota has it cycling smoothly.
Management. Japanese management thinks in terms of years- five, 10 and 20- ahead of time. In the U.S., manufacturers have tunnel vision on quarterly outputs and profitability. Because management is planning so far into the future, there is the luxury for prioritizing reliability, foreseeing trends and errors and scrutinizing every facet of production years before said production is set to begin.
Humility. Toyota does not impress upon its consumers or competitors that what it is doing is the most important thing that is being done in the industry. The emphasis is, rather, upon doing a good job. In Japanese culture- especially business culture, humility is an important and invaluable characteristic.
Ability to accept criticism. There is a Japanese word, hansei, which means to look inward and reflect on what one has done wrong. Everyone has hansei, or should. Therefore, it is a sign of respect in Japan to critique one’s work. Criticism offers the assumption that the receiver of the remarks has hansei, and can digest the remarks appropriately. For this reason, criticism is use a critical and kind tool at Toyota. Instead of praise for what is done accurately, an analysis of what can be better is the centerpiece of conversation.
Investment in the future. Toyota spends over $10 million a day in research and development. This heavy investment is one of the most compelling attributes of the company. It’s also another testament to their the company’s humility. Toyota observes a constant need to improve. A continual opportunity to make better products and serve customers with greater excellence.
Corporate culture. Toyota’s foundation is comprised of three elements: the process, the people, and the technology. The process is seen in the team’s outcome; the value of the people is placed in their ideas, and the technology is considered to live within those ideas.
The workers of Toyota are fully embraced and each individual is valued. Toyota believes in the inherent uniqueness of each worker and the consequent unique ideas that are likely to emerge from each of their minds. Computers cannot generate the ideas that Toyota employs for success. Instead, the company relies on its workers to imagine the business-driving concepts. Additionally, people can be trained and rewarded to thinking innovatively. As long as Toyota can invest in such training, the greatest ideas are yet to come.
Removing waste. There is a near-zero waste of raw materials at the end of the Toyota process. This is a feat of which most manufacturers can only dream. Even scraps are recycled into the next batch of raw materials. By using everything the company brings in as the source for the vehicles, the efficiency of production is unmatched by any other auto manufacturer. For Toyota, the lack of waste allows the process to continue seamlessly, never stopping to rid the area of waste or ‘start a new round.’ The cycle only continues.
Cleanliness. Clutter is seen as a distraction and it is eliminated, accordingly. The focus of workers should always be on how to make the Toyota product better. If there is waste which needs to be thrown away or accessories that lead the worker down a different trail of thoughts, the focus is lost. Ideas for betterment are not being thought of. The efficiency goes out the window. So Toyota keeps everything clean, tidy and with no clutter in sight.
Flow. It’s all about the flow at Toyota. There is no emphasis on mass production, only on production. At Toyota, the assembly line can be seen as a stream. A thin, smooth, ever-running life supply. A stream is nothing like a land-bound body of water, such as a pond or a lake. There is no murkiness to be wondered at beneath the surface of the water. Rocks are visible, and water swiftly makes its way around them. The stream is always flowing, always pushing forward at the pace that allows it to move through nature best.
Failure is seen as the moment that one is pleased with oneself. At Toyota, the focus on serving customers is considered the only solution to avoid falling into a comfort zone. By remaining constantly aware of and listening to consumers concerns, Toyota has no choice but to be continually bettering its process and products.
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