Ghosn on Toyota
In an article that reminds us that the uber-leader is merely human:
“He's not a superman, only a human being, but he gets results,” says Garel Rhys of the Cardiff University Center for Automotive Industry Research in Wales. “He sets goals and holds people accountable.”
Is there a French equivalent of “uber”? Of course he's human. Sheesh, the business press and the way they pump people up sometimes. Anyway, if the only magic is “setting goals and holding people accountable”, it seems like every company should be having that same magic. Old Sloan mass production management was all about “management by objectives” and still is. It's the stuff Deming railed against.
Is the problem with everyone else either A) not setting goals or B) not holding people accountable?
Anyway, Ghosn said this about Toyota:
Ghosn also spends much of his time thinking about Toyota. Since he believes he can't know what Toyota will do in the future, the most important thing is for Nissan to go its own way.
In an industry that produces 65 million vehicles annually, Ghosn argues, there should be room for most of the players. “I think in our industry, when you do the right thing, you get the right results,” he says. “I don't think there is anything miraculous.”
What is miraculous to him is Toyota's consistent ability to execute in an operationally complex business without making many mistakes. “From time to time when you miss something, you're getting punished for it. If you miss two things, you're getting harshly punished. If you miss more than two things, then you start to be in serious trouble.”
Not Toyota. Without mentioning the company by name, Ghosn ticks off the list of qualities that make it successful: a learning organization, humble in front of its customers, using profit as the only meaningful indicator.
Notice he isn't worrying about GM, his almost alliance partner. I think it's important to note that Ghosn and Nissan are “going its own way.” Sure, learn from Toyota, but don't just copy. Copying another company is a rear-view mirror strategy. So, I like the sound of that.
Is it really true that Toyota considers profit the “only” meaningful indicator? I know they are in business to make money, and they make a lot of it, but someone could misinterpret that comment… Toyota isn't concerned about short-term profit, they are thinking for the long term. Doesn't Toyota consider other short term metrics to be critical for meeting that long term profit indicator?
Most of the business world already considers profit the only meaningful indicator. That or maybe the stock price. Toyota is certainly different. What do you think about any of what I've said?