An oft-repeated (including here in my blog) story in the Lean world says that the Toyoda family used “Toyota” as the company name because “Toyota” requires only 8 brush strokes to be written in Japanese hiragana characters, while the family name requires 10. This is often used as an example of early “kaizen” or waste reduction. But it’s not true?
A Toyota spokesperson says that story is inaccurate. From the article:
The carmaker began in 1933 as part of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, a sewing machine company founded by Sakichi Toyoda. When the auto unit was split off in 1937, son Kiichiro Toyoda decided to change the spelling of its name to keep his business and family life separate.
It may have been marketing, too: Toyoda means “abundant rice field.” It may have seemed too agrarian for a carmaker.
Yet, a company book from the 1980s told the story… historical license, an urban legend, or revisionist history? I guess it doesn’t really matter. There’s also this BBC story that tells both sides of what might have happened (“Why is the car giant Toyota not Toyoda?“).
Lean Myth…. Busted? That doesn’t have the same ring to it, with the question mark, as the Discovery Channel show MythBusters!
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