Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why Toyota? Why always Toyota?

Why Toyota? Why always Toyota?

I read with interest Mark Graban’s Lean Blog entry yesterday on No Satisfaction at Toyota, an article in Fast Company. It is a terrific article and I recommend it highly.

And it got me thinking; Why am I so fascinated by Toyota? Why does my benchmark always come back to this one company? Am I narrow? Envious? Participating in a fad? Why always Toyota?

Our neighbors and friends for many years have a son who is a very talented musician. He plays the bassoon. When he was in Junior High, we’d walk past the house and hear him in his room playing scales. First in one key. Then in the next step higher key. Then a step lower key. Up and down. Scales, scales, scales. Later we’d hear him work on a particular piece of music. Over and over, on the same few measures, getting it just right. On the bassoon, for heaven’s sake.

That Junior High kid is now in his mid 20s. He earned major scholarships to study bassoon in the US and in England. He now works with a major eastern symphony orchestra. Contrary to what one might take from my description above, he is a very well-rounded man. He is very personable, charming and has also found a gift in fund-raising for this orchestra.

He did this by paying attention to the most excellent bassoonists he could connect with. He and his parents sacrificed much to travel and study the best, with the best.

And in so doing, he nailed the basics. The scales. The bassoon repertoire. And he hasn’t quit. And he has a fascinating job in an arena he loves.

Yeah, that’s why Toyota. I’ve toured their plants, read all I can on them and I see the results of all their products. Further, Toyota is willing to share, much as some world-class bassoonists were willing to teach my neighbor.

I need not apologize for a fascination with Toyota, no more than my friend will apologize for learning from his teachers. The issue is not Toyota; it is in the pride I would exhibit to think I cannot learn from the best.

1 comment:

Mark Graban said...

I bet someone might listen to him perform and say "that must come so easy to him" when it's a combination of talent and relentless hard work that led to the success, isn't it? I bet others also look at Toyota and think it must come easy to them.