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The Toyota Leaders

An Executive Guide

Masaaki Sato

Publisher: Vertical, 2008 , 334 pages

ISBN: 978-1-934287-23-1

Keywords: Lean, Biography


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While there are many books on Toyota, they have tended to focus on "Just In Time" and other facets of the company's famously efficient floor operations and how they might be transposed to American manufacturing, with less attention paid to Toyota's overall strategic vision. This book corrects the deficit by approaching the company from a more "white collar" angle, zooming in, not on inventory management, but on business management.

Author Masaaki Sato, Japan's premier auto-industry expert, brilliantly presents his case that Toyota's strengths, including efficiency on the floor, cannot be understood or emulated outside the context of tradition-not Japan's, but Toyota's own. Inventor and Toyota Group founder Sakichi Toyoda's "Precepts" have served as the backbone of the carmaker's executive culture since its inception and, even today, guide decision-making at the top echelons.

Toyota has not always been the global powerhouse that it is today. In the difficult post-war years it very nearly went under and only survived by conducting a mass lay-off in exchange of then-president Kiichiro Toyoda's resignation; the crisis forced the company to be sundered into separate manufacturing and sales divisions that were not to be reunited again for decades. The global ascendance of an automaker long routinely derided as a "hick daimyo" for its parochial bent was never a given. Throughout its history, down to the recent string of chief executives including Hiroshi Okuda who are not from the Toyoda family, it was leadership at the top that moved the company forward - paradoxically, by harkening back to its founding vision.

Readers of The Toyota Leaders will also learn that U.S.-Japan auto-industry relations have not always, or even primarily, been one of confrontation, but rather of mutual emulation and alliance. The very idea of kaizen (reform) arose from Toyoda scion Eiji's early tutelage to Ford, and the Japanese automaker may never have made it in the U.S. market without a jump-starting partnership with General Motors.

Indeed, this book suggests, American firms would be better positioned to absorb Toyota's lessons if they enjoyed greater familiarity with its lore beyond the superficies of production, just as their Japanese counterparts have ever been mindful of the august history of American enterprise. The Toyota Leaders: An Executive Guide is a must-read for those who find themselves in a management role or intend to one day, whether or not in the auto industry.

Table of Contents:

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  • Preface: Toyota and I — and David Halberstam
  1. The Toyota Precepts
  2. What It Takes a Leader
  3. A Founder's Dream and Frustrations
  4. Toyota Learned from Ford
  5. The Toyota Production System
  6. Conditional Reinstatement of the President
  7. Toyoda Family Tragedy
  8. Electing for Inde3pendent Development
  9. The Standard for Japanese Cars
  10. Toyota, Its Own Worst Enemy
  11. Constructing the Motomachi Plant
  12. Initiating Exports to the U.S.
  13. People's Car or Mass-Market Car?
  14. Protect Your Own Castle
  15. The Corolla: Realizing the Dream of Toyota's Founder
  16. Victors in the Industrial Reorganization Drama
  17. Toyota's Cornerstone: Labor-Management Cooperation
  18. Waving the Presidential Flag
  19. Virtue out of Vice
  20. The Global Compact Car Wars
  21. The Decisive Tie-Up Negotiations with Ford and GM
  22. The Vicissitudes of an International Corporation
  23. Crisis at Toyota
  24. Okuda's Reform
  25. The Man Behind Lexus
  26. The Toyota Prius: Another Trump Card
  27. Preparing to Become World-Best
  28. Reaching for the Throne: Multidimensional Strategy
  • The Wounded Forerunner


The Toyota Leaders

by Roland Buresund last modified 2010-05-20 00:00

Rating: ******* (Good)

This isn't about the Toyota management, nor is it about the Toyota Way or Lean Production or the Toyota Principles etc.

This is the biography of the Toyota, the company!

And a good, descriptive biography as well. An interesting read, even if you're not American (which is the authors intended target) or outside the automobile business.

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