Gas Pedals and Supply Chains – Lessons from Toyota

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So, here is an example of taking some current news and drawing some learnings from it.  No doubt by now everyone has heard about the massive problems Toyota is experiencing.  Below is one of the many articles on the topic (full disclosure…we were interviewed and are quoted in it).  The challenge is that articles like this rarely dig into the deeper impacts of recent events.  There’s so much to be learned from Toyota, but who is asking the right questions?  I’ve posted a few below to get the discussion going…looking forward to your responses. 

USA TODAY

January 28, 2010

http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-01-27-toyota-recall-latest-developments_N.htm

Some points to ponder…

Was this a Supply Chain problem?  If so, where do you think the problems were?

Was this a breakdown of the much vaunted T.P.S.?

Did Toyota’s desire to beat GM and be the Number One auto maker have anything to do with this?  Did their growth outpace their Supply Chain?

Do you think Toyota did an adequate job of Risk Management before this event?  How about after the event?

Did the “globalization” of Toyota perhaps dilute their core values and change their culture in any way?  Did that have anything to do with why the original problem occurred?  Did it have anything to do with how Toyota handled the problem?

Does this mean an opportunity for their competitors to take away market share permanently?

The latest news says that the acceleration problem may have nothing to do with the accelerator pedals; it may instead be an electronics issue.  What does that tell you of the integration between their design engineering and their sourcing process?

Did Toyota have an adequate Supply Chain Risk Management process (NOT only a supplier risk process) in place?

The fact that Toyota could not switch from the supplier in question to another supplier because of variability in design…what does that tell you about their design engineering process (and risk management)?

These are merely some questions to provoke your thinking.  Feel free to add your own commentary and not be restricted by these questions.

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Dalip Raheja
Dalip Raheja is President and CEO of The Mpower Group (TMG). Dalip has over 30 years of experience managing large organizations and change initiatives. He has worked across the spectrums of supply chain management, strategic sourcing, and management consulting.
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