Extreme Toyota : Radical Contradictions That Drive Success at the World's Best Manufacturer


By almost any measure, Toyota is a model of extreme performance among the world's best manufacturers. The company is hugely profitable, known for strong engineering, durability, and reliablity, and is on track to replace GM as the world's largest automaker. What explains this phenomenal success?

Based on six years of research and unprecedented access to Toyota facilities, documents, and activities—as well as hundreds of interviews with employees and leaders of the ...

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By almost any measure, Toyota is a model of extreme performance among the world's best manufacturers. The company is hugely profitable, known for strong engineering, durability, and reliablity, and is on track to replace GM as the world's largest automaker. What explains this phenomenal success?

Based on six years of research and unprecedented access to Toyota facilities, documents, and activities—as well as hundreds of interviews with employees and leaders of the company—Extreme Toyota explains what makes Toyota great and what you and your business can learn from its success.

Through Toyota is well known for its innovtive production process—the Toyota Production System (TPS)—there is much more to its success than just its nimble, cost-effective production practices. The authors of Extreme Toyota explain that the secret to Toyota's success lies in a series of striking paradoxes or contradictions that are actively encouraged by Toyota's management. For example:

• Toyota cultivates frugality and thriftiness AND spends big to develop people and projects

• It is hierarchical and bureaucratic AND encourages dissent

• It aims for stability AND fosters a mindset of paranoia

• It moves forward slowly and gradually AND makes big leaps

• It is operationally efficient AND filled with redundancy

This creative clash of innovative production practices and traditional corporate culture not only works, it works extraordinarily well. Toyota manages to turn these seeming contradictions and pradoxes, Toyota actively encourages them, resulting in continuous innovation and constant renewal. If you want to grow your own culture of contradiction and success, take a look inside the world's best manufacturer.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Authors Osono, Norihiko Shimizu, and Hirotaka Takeuchi-all business professors at Hitotsubashi University, Japan-here provide a detailed look at the principles underlying the long-term success of car giant Toyota. They begin by identifying Toyota's central "driving" forces-expansion, impossible goals, experimentation, local customization, integration, founders' philosophies, "nerve system," and "up-and-in human resource management"-and then use case studies of Lexus, Scion, Tundra, and other Toyota brands to show how the company's principles apply to day-to-day management and operations. The contradictory nature of the forces described-some focused on expansion, others on integration-form the framework for the authors' subsequent analysis of the company. A final chapter demonstrates the applicability of Toyota's approach to other types of businesses. Heavily footnoted and studded with graphs and charts, this insider's view of one of the world's leading manufacturers is somewhat academic in tone yet has enough anecdotes to make it interesting. Purchase for academic libraries with business or manufacturing/engineering programs.
—Susan Hurst

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470267622
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/23/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,011,210
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Hirotaka Takeuchi, Emi Osono, and Norihiko Shimizu are business school graduates from the University of California, Berkeley, The George Washington University, and Stanford University, respectively. They are professors at one of Japan's top business schools, Hitotsubashi University, Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy (www.ics.hit-u.ac.jp). Takeuchi works closely with Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard University, with whom he coauthored Can Japan Compete? (2000). All three authors are also frequent speakers at conferences and seminars around the world.

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Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Extreme Toyota: An Organization Powered by Creative Contradictions     1
An Amazing Track Record     1
The Hard Side of Toyota     3
The Powerful and Mysterious Soft Side     3
How Toyota Is Like a Failed, Stagnant Company     4
Management Orchestrated Contradictions, Opposites, and Paradoxes     8
Embracing Contradictions as a Way of Life     19
Conclusion     20
Six Opposing Forces That Drive the Company's Expansion-and Keep It from Breaking Apart     23
Forces of Expansion     25
Forces of Integration     30
Six Forces Working Together     34
Resource Base     35
Six Forces in Action: Case of the Lexus     38
Conclusion     42
The Force of Impossible Goals     43
Meet Every Customer Need     45
The Finest Cars, the Finest Dealers     51
Bypassing Japan to Make a Global Car     57
Conclusion     64
Eagerness to Experiment     67
Experimentation Hardware: The Eight-Step and A3 Processes     73
Experimentation Software: Values     86
Conclusion     92
Local Customization     95
The Underdog Even at Home     98
Customizing the IMV in Asia     99
The Challenges and Benefits of Local Customization     100
Customizing the Yaris for Europe     102
Customizing the Scion for the United States Youth Segment     105
Customizing the Tundra for the United States     115
Disseminating Local Best Practices throughout the World     116
Conclusion     118
The Founders' Philosophies     121
Tomorrow Will Be Better than Today     124
Everybody Should Win     129
Customer First, Dealers Second, and Manufacturer Last     135
Genchi Genbutsu     139
Conclusion     141
Toyota's Nerve System-A Human Version of the World Wide Web     143
Open and Lateral Dissemination of Know-How     146
Freedom to Voice Contrary Opinions     149
Frequent Face-to-Face Interaction     154
Making Tacit Knowledge Explicit: The Toyota Way 2001     158
Formal and Informal Support Mechanisms     161
Conclusion     163
Up-and-In Human Resource Management     165
Stable, Long-Term Employment     169
Emphasis on Training, Training, and More Training      172
Power in Teamwork     177
Action Orientation     178
Learning-Based Evaluation     180
Conclusion     183
Toyota's Resource Base     185
Investing in Efficiency     187
Cultivating Organizational Capability and People Required for Growth     191
Making a Long-Term Commitment to People     198
Conclusion     206
A Company Always in Danger     211
Organizational Growth Pains     212
Employee Complacency     214
Cultural Rigidity     216
Workforce Diversity     218
Insular Approach to the Capital Markets     220
Rise of New Competitors     221
Conclusion     223
What Your Organization Can Learn from Toyota: Ten Powerful Contradictions     225
Embrace Contradictions     229
Conclusion     238
Selected Auto Industry Figures and Comparisons     241
Extreme Toyota     241
Six Forces     248
Impossible Goals     253
Resources     254
Literature Review     257
Literature Review Methodology     258
Notes      263
References     287
Index     297
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  • Posted October 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Insightful study of Toyota's cultural strength and internal contradictions

    Vast numbers of books discuss Toyota, but this one is far more than just another paean to how well the company uses its production system. Emi Osono, Norihiko Shimizu and Hirotaka Takeuchi, working with translator John Kyle Dorton, focus on several different elements of Toyota's culture. They explain how the company's leaders diagnose its internal contradictions and use them as a source of energy and a springboard for creativity. Where most corporate leaders see waste and a sad absence of harmonization, Toyota's executives forge a fresh road through experimentation and continuous improvement. The book offers new ideas to help you assess your organization's internal contradictions and turn them to your advantage. Despite being originally written in Japanese, this volume reads well and it features illustrations that actually help you understand the concepts behind the words. getAbstract recommends it to businesspeople who are interested in Toyota, its culture and the culture of their own organizations.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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