Thomas L. Friedman: Save us, O Toyota


International Herald Tribune

Thomas L. Friedman starts a recent column with a provocative question:

If I am rooting for General Motors to go bankrupt and be bought out by Toyota, does that make me a bad person? It's not that I want any autoworker to lose his or her job, but I think the only hope for GM's workers, and maybe even our country, is with Toyota.

He is thinking in terms of Toyota's leadership in hybrids and alt-fuel technologies, how spreading that throughout GM would help reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, which would help with a number of geopolitical situations.

As a former GM employee (also having a dad who is a 36-yr GM employee), I don't want to see GM crumble and see people lose jobs. But, I wonder if having Toyota buy GM wouldn't be best for productivity, quality, customers, and long-term employee job satisfaction and security.

Now, Toyota probably wouldn't want to deal with the UAW. And, other than that, I doubt our leaders in Washington will ever let GM be bought by foreign owners (they won't let failing airlines go under, too many jobs at stake).

I guess the question is this — if Toyota bought or merged with GM, could Toyota “fix” GM? Click “Comments” to let us know what you think.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Yes, Toyota could fix GM. Even the right leaders and managers, within GM, could fix GM but it is a huge long term job and it would be harder to do it internally because you will have to do it while competing with Toyota.

    I wouldn’t buy GM if I were Toyota, though. Why bother. Just grow Toyota, it is working very well so far.

    The only purchases I would focus on if I were Toyota are those companies innovating new technology. If some companies have developed great stuff, with say battery technology, and Toyota realizes it is much better than what they have then consider buying those companies.

    Comment continued: Could Toyota Fix GM


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