Blog: Dave LeggettCorporate culture and best practice diffusion

Dave Leggett | 27 November 2007

Why is it that so many firms in the automotive business make basic mistakes? Okay, the business of making and selling cars is complex, but it is quite astounding that so many firms get things wrong - whether it's a model's design, a car's driving dynamics, production economics or manufacturing processes.

Sometimes the foul-ups look obvious to the outside observer. But they keep happening. I guess it's partly the human condition, a form of 'group think' and the emergence of certain cultures or prevailing attitudes inside companies - they're not always a good thing. And there are real-world conditions that may mean the text book has to be put to one side.

The variability of firms' performances in this industry is striking, as is the capability for things to get turned around quite quickly (eg Fiat).

But you would think that certain elements of 'best practice' would quickly get around wouldn't you? Some do, but there's still the small matter of execution

Joint ventures between OEMs probably provide one of the best opportunities for a bit of cross-fertilisation and learning, but maybe that can still get overridden by what we might term 'corporate culture'.

Yes, the Toyota Way is fine and dandy but we'll be doing it this way, so please tow the line and don't cause trouble - we simply haven't got time to fix all this stuff you're coming up with...

This lawsuit is certainly an interesting one in terms of the apparent volume/quality trade-off. I wonder if it is representative of how things might work at NUMMI. Certainly the allegations are fascinating.

Mind you, US$45m in damages seems a bit on the high side to me.

US: 'Toyota Way' ignored at NUMMI - disgruntled worker


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