A "Kinder and Gentler" Lean Supply Base?

USATODAY.com – Ford will use fewer suppliers in attempt to cut costs:

The Gemba Pantarei blog also has some good comments on this story about Ford supposedly planning on moving to a more Toyota like supplier relations model of cooperation and longer term contracts.

I question the notion that Ford’s push means “kinder and gentler.” My understanding was that Toyota was tough and demanding, albeit loyal and fair. A friend at a supplier once said that being a Toyota supplier can be the “best thing and worst thing to happen to you.” What are your experiences? (click comments)

I say Ford is “supposedly” moving to the Toyota model, forgive my cynicism. I saw Thomas Stallkamp speak a few years back, after Daimler bought out Chrysler and he was nearly in tears describing how Daimler was undoing all of the progress he had made in moving Chrysler toward the supplier cooperation model, that Daimler had them back to demanding year over year reductions in the old style.

I remember a few years back in the PC industry, where Compaq would announce a new “build to order” strategy every year to compete with Dell, only to move away from it when it suited them (or they just failed outright). Will the same happen with Ford and GM?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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