How Toyota became number one

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Authors: D. Magee

Publication Year: 2007


Title: How Toyota became number one

Categories: Organizational Change, Adaptive Cycle


The book How Toyota became #1 by David Magee describes the success story of small Japanese startup becoming to the world’s greatest automaker. It is the story of a unique company culture and company principles. Beside the introduction of the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is often described as the key factor for Toyotas success, the book focuses on so called Kaizen methods (Kaizen = improvement in Japanese), Continuous Improvement, Total Quality Management (TQM), Process Re-engineering, Lean Production and more. It is also a story of leadership and management, in particular of managers. The author of the book, David Magee, interviewed current and former Toyota executives in the USA and Japan in order to understand the Toyota and its success. The book is about the leadership philosophies that make Toyota work. The book combines theory with practice. It presents examples of how Toyota has implemented their principles and compares Toyotas approaches to its competitors. These comparisons illustrate the differences between the companies and the results each achieved. The success story of Toyota is caused and influenced by many factors. It is impossible to cover all of them in a short summery. Never the less the following lines summaries some of the important factors. The author David Magee explains the surprising power of Toyota's corporate culture, which includes:[1]: Focusing on the long term: While most companies worry about the next quarter, Toyota is thinking about the next quarter century Jumping beyond the current trend: When GM and Ford were still ramping up their gas-guzzling SUVs, Toyota was very quietly taking a huge lead on hybrids. Making quality everyone's responsibility: Toyota expects people at every level to think and act like quality-control inspectors Managing individual strengths and curiosity : Toyota is revolutionizing the way people are managed, to maximize their strengths and curiosity instead of criticizing their weaknesses

Critical Reflection

How Toyota became #1 by David Magee is one of the most interesting books I recently read. It has a rather practical approach and theoretical. I liked the practical examples of Toyotas culture and principles in practice and the comparisons the competitors. I liked the leadership and management examples, in particular the examples of certain managers. The management approaches at Toyota made me remember the lecture Capita Selecta in Information Science at University of Amsterdam where I got introduced to the book Management, Information and Power – a narrative of the involved manager by Lucas Introna. I believe it’s possible to link the ideas of Lucas Intronas story of the involved manager to certain managers at Toyota in practice. The book made me curious about management approaches in Japan and the way Toyota operates. I believe there are huge differences to western business and management approaches. I would like to know more about the Toyota production System (TPS), which I believe is one of the key factors of Toyotas success. The book was published in 2007 before the finical crisis 2008, before the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and before the European Debt crisis 2010-2011. I would like to get more Information on how Toyota dealt with these huge challenges. I recently discovered the book Toyota Under Fire: Lessons for Turning Crisis into Opportunity by Jeffrey Liker and Timothy N. Ogden which probably will give an answer to the issues I mentioned before, it was published in April 2011. I read the book How Toyota became number one with the intention to get more insights on curiosity in practice and curiosity in the adaptive cycle. The results of my research on these topics can be found on the wiki page How Curiosity Empowers Toyota. At last I only can recommend reading the book.