By December 26, 2006 1 Comments Read More →

Ford’s Mulally meets with Toyota

NY Times: Ford and Toyota Chiefs Met in Tokyo

MSNBC: Ford’s Mulally signals co-operation with Toyota

In the NY Times today… apparently they fired up Mark Fields’ private jet and flew off to Japan last week to meet with Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho. They weren’t talking partnership or merger, but rather:

Japanese press reports said executives from Ford and Toyota discussed development of hybrid-electric and hydrogen powered cars and ways that Toyota could help Ford improve its manufacturing efficiency.

Interesting. Is this part of Toyota’s political sensitivity while on the verge of becoming #1 in global auto production. Would it really help Toyota, in the long term, if Ford were to fail? It’s no surprise to Ford watchers or readers of this blog that Mulally wants to learn from Toyota. It’s part of Ford’s political sensitivity (back in Detroit) that they kept the visit secret and don’t want to be embarrassed that they ran to Toyota for help?

For his part, Mr. Mulally is a student of the Toyota Production System, which emphasizes the elimination of waste throughout all aspects of a company’s operations, as well as stressing continuous improvement on the assembly line.

He implemented a form of the system when he ran the airplanes division at the Boeing Company, where he worked before joining Ford in September.

But that journey is nothing new for Mr. Mulally, who made the trip dozens of times while a Boeing executive, both to see Boeing customers in Japan and to hone his knowledge of Toyota’s manufacturing methods.

In the first quoted paragraph above, I’d expect people to say that TPS “emphasizes continuous improvement on the assembly line, as well as the elimination of waste throughout all aspects of a company’s operations.” I’d expect it be said that way because most people think, incorrectly, that TPS and lean are concepts for the factory floor only.

Alternative headline would have been “Mulally and Mullet meet with Toyota.” I try to take the high road, but it’s tough…

More news articles, via Google, most of which probably don’t use the word “mullet.”


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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 eBook 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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1 Comment on "Ford’s Mulally meets with Toyota"

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  1. ” It’s part of Ford’s political sensitivity (back in Detroit) that they kept the visit secret and don’t want to be embarrassed that they ran to Toyota for help”

    This just makes me respect them more for trying to learn new things. Good on them.

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