Soundview Executive Book Summaries

An Acceleration in Accountability

Today should be an eventful session on Capitol Hill. I’ve been keenly following the news reports about the investigation into Toyota’s mysterious acceleration problems with a number of its vehicles. I’m a bit of a nervous driver and although I don’t personally drive a Toyota, the thought of this same problem occurring with my car is enough to keep me tuned in to any news about the issue.

Toyota’s President and CEO Akio Toyoda will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform via a prepared statement. It is expected that Toyoda will accept full responsibility for his company’s safety issue. While this type of statement is what we would expect of a CEO in the midst of a crisis, it raises an obvious question, one which was also raised by the authors of a recent Soundview summary: How Did That Happen?

There have been media reports that describe Toyota’s troubles as a negative outcome of the company’s recent success. The business grew quickly and needed to keep pace with the rapidly increasing demand for its product. In the race to produce more cars, commentators argue, corners were cut and safety was sacrificed. In my opinion, this is pure speculation. Toyota will require the type of analysis of its accountability procedures about which Roger Connors and Tom Smith write in How Did That Happen?.

While Toyoda does the talking before Congress, employees at every level of Toyota’s organization will be asked to examine their own performance and decision-making as it relates to the company’s acceleration issue. Connors and Smith are believers that with the right emphasis on the part of management, employees will willingly participate in a positive, principled program of accountability. Toyoda has an opportunity to lead the way for the company that bears his name. It will be interesting to see what happens next.


2 Comments so far
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Toyota is being tarred and feathered by the U.S. government because G.M. and Chrysler are owned by the U.S. government and the UAW. Since GM and Chrysler are now in a position to never have to show a profit again (as they are just two more bottomless-pit-government agencies, artificially propped up by tax payer monies), it’s curious that this witch hunt is taking place at all. The only reason can be is that Toyota doesn’t hire UAW “talent”, which is one of many reasons it took over GM as the world’s number one automaker. The UAW is trying to unionize Toyota UAW style, so that they can destroy that automaker as well.
I submit that there is NOT a mechanical problem with Toyotas-brakes or otherwise-and that these charges are all a nefarious fabrications for compulsory concessions by Toyota to the Feds and the UAW. You heard it here first.

Comment by Paul Edgewater

I’ve definitely encountered ideas similar to yours as I search around the blogosphere. While you raise some interesting points that will no doubt cause many to agree or disagree accordingly, I can’t verify any of the information.

I keep my blog non-political because it’s centered on business books. Still, raising the questions you raise is an important part of the operation of a free society, and I’m glad you wrote to us.

What interests me in the Toyota controversy is whether or not it will change the company’s accountability practices. One of the reasons we selected How Did That Happen for summary is that accountability practices are either soft or reactionary and the authors of the book provide a program that is proactive and positive. Toyota has an opportunity to change its practices and return to a better standing with its consumers. Only time will tell if this will occur.

Thanks for reading!

Comment by Soundview

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