“Toyota Under Fire” by Jeffrey Liker and Timothy Ogden is a highly recommended book for leaders, Lean-thinkers, and people interested in media criticism.
I initially thought it would solely be about the recall crisis which NASA has already vindicated the company. The book also details the challenges faced by Toyota during the recession. The authors provide candid information about how the company could have done better and show how they turned the crisis into an opportunity to become stronger.
The final chapter transforms Toyota’s story during the crisis into lessons other organizations can use to help them be prepared for a crisis.
The book helped understand the power of the Toyota Way and reaffirms why they are a company to be admired. There are many great insights into the thinking of the people in the organization. Some of my favorites were about how deeply respect for people is practiced, the examples of how important it is to be close to the problem to be able to improve it, the importance of culture, and how the five why’s were used to accept responsibility of the problem.
For those interested in media criticism, this book provides a lot of data that was distorted or omitted in the news during the recalls. The examples of sensationalized reports with no follow-through once disproven will serve as a reminder to take what we consume from the news with a grain of salt.
One thing I found surprising in the book is that many cited sources were from bloggers and websites. Since the traditional media seemed slanted against Toyota, these other sources appear more neutral.
Liker and Ogden’s book show how Toyota practices the Toyota Way. It is not just about theory and philosophy but a demonstration of how it was recently done. This was an excellent book.
Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher.
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One response to “Book Review: Toyota Under Fire”
Thanks for the nice succinct review, Brian. Looking back on that crisis I find it interesting how Toyota took responsibility for the issues well before the true root causes were found. To me that’s an example of their humility and concern for their customers. I realize they were criticized for not taking responsibility so quickly by the media, but then again, the media was all over them before the root causes were found. Akio Toyoda told congress that they had put more emphasis on becoming the biggest manufacturer and put people development behind that. So perhaps one of Toyota’s lessons learned was that they might have dodged a bullet with this one? If they were truly putting production ahead of culture then they very well could have had a crisis on their hands that was of their own making…