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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: What is to be learned from Toyota now?

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

What is to be learned from Toyota now?

Let me suggest a chemical metaphor

Leadership is the “enzyme” that catalyzes continuous problem solving. Companies that grow too fast, are unable to grow leaders quick enough. (I agree that it takes 10 years.)

Conventional leaders fill open positions and dysfuntional mental models proliferate.

Here are a few examples: I’m the boss — do as I say! Don’t make me look bad — (hide the problem)! Make the numbers — or else!
Root cause — what’s that? Just make the problem go away!

Conventional leaders also fail to see the value stream — the proverbial big picture. They suboptimize — and get their bonuses.

Does the above apply to Toyota? My buddies in the company have lamented for some time that “we’ve become just another big car company”. If true, the countermeasure is clear and will require years: grow more leaders.

Which brings us to Peter’s question: How do we help people discover the level of commitment needed to become such a leader?

I’d suggest we have to connect through philosophy and personal experience. The former may entail Aristotle, Virtue ethics, the Upanishads — or any system of practical wisdom that emphasizes lifelong commitment to a Way. The latter entails practical kaizen in the gemba.

It’s damned hard — even for a Toyota.

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