Interview With the First American Woman to Work for Honda in Tokyo


I don't share every episode of “My Favorite Mistake” here (but I do hope you'll subscribe and listen).

As a reader of this blog, you might know that John Shook was the first American manager to be hired by Toyota in Japan.

I had the opportunity to meet Laura Kriska, who was the first American woman to be hired to work at Honda's corporate headquarters in Tokyo. I'm sure she and John would have a lot to talk about!!

In her episode, she shares some mistakes that she made in that role… and what she learned.

She also talks about initiating a “quality circle” group that recommended they get rid of the blue polyester uniforms that the “office ladies” had to wear.

I've written about quality circles, especially how they are still prevalent in Japan:

Back to Laura, her book is: The Business of We: The Proven Three-Step Process for Closing the Gap Between Us and Them in Your Workplace.

As I shared on her LinkedIn post about the episode (which includes a short video of her on her first day at Honda and you can see that uniform), it's helpful for organizations to shift from “us vs. them” to “we.”

As I commented:

Laura Kriska (she-her), thank you so much for being a guest and for sharing your story — including your mistake and your learning.

I really appreciate your message and how important it is today… shifting from “us vs. them” to “we.”

You worked at Honda, but when I started my career at General Motors in Michigan, 1995, the culture was horribly “us vs. them.” But, thankfully we got a new plant manager, a GM guy who was trained by Toyota along the way, and he was a “we culture” builder… that made such a difference. I don't have a video from my first day at GM :-)

I hope you'll check out the episode and other recent “My Favorite Mistake” episodes:

A New NFL Assistant Coach's Many Mistakes: Dr. Jen Welter

The Hurting Hockey Player Who Felt Sorry For Himself: Dave Scatchard

Did McKinsey Fire Tom Peters Because of His Long Hair?

When Bill Maher Wanted Me Fired From Comedy Central: Art Bell

Thanks for checking them out.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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