Takeuchi, et al. : Extreme Toyota

The book ‘Extreme Toyota’ concentrates on 10 ‘Radical Contradictions that drive Success at the world’s best manufacturer’.

Here you may learn about Toyota’s way of thinking, acting, working from the core. Every contradiction is elaborately explained and examplified in the first 225 pages of the book.

I would like to concentrate on one of the last chapters, summarizing the 10 contradictions and what your organization may learn from Toyota.
(I will give you my personal view of the 10 contradictions, not the author’s.)

“Contradiction 01 > Impossible Goals: Know where Reality stands to take on impossibly High Goals

Only impossible goals are worth reaching, everything else is incremental, shallow, not visionary. If you do not know where you stand today, you are not able to draw line for the best way from scratch to vision. And you cannot stir in the long run, because you have no direction.

“Contradiction 02 > Experimentation: Conduct Small, Interim Experiments to realize the Occasional Big Jump”

Small experiments keep you in the loop, give practice and experience. Everybody in your company should have the freedom and backing to experiment.
You cannot concentrate on the Big Jump, that’s way to risky to put all your resources behind very few big bets.

“Contradiction 03 > Local Customization: Localize to become Global”

It’s a continuum between Local and Global, you know it as Glocal. Build from local keeping the global perspective in your backhead.

“Contradiction 04 > Founder’s Philosophies: Cherish the Founder’s Philosophies to Nurture Future Leaders”

Too many CEOs neglect traditions and the heritage of the founder. But the founder had the vision, had the strength to build the company from scratch. The CEOs are just the managers of this heritage. They should respect it, learn from it and develop it further. They have to perfect it, not to abandon it due to short-term considerations and lack of imagination. The founder’s philosophy is the corner stone of the company’s success.

“Contradiction 05 > Founder’s Philosophies: Remain Incomplete in Order to Grow”

Parkinson, too, explained that you find perfection only in dead organizations. Incompleteness guaranties that you strive for but not reach perfection. There is nothing like perfection in this world. There is evolution and development. Reaching perfection means coming to a halt.

“Contradiction 06 > Nerve System: Creating an Interconnected World through an Analog Web in the Digital Age”

The real world is analog, you still have to meet people face to face. The connections are stronger when they have been tightened in the real world.

“Contradiction 07 > Nerve System: Bad News first to become a good Corporate Citizen”

As everybody can sail in sunny weather, everybody can take the good news. But the bad news may harm the business. They have to come first. They have to be transformed into good news by solving the underlying problems.

“Contradiction 08 > Up-and-In Human Resource Management: To maximize Productivity, Don’t let go of people”

People who feel that they are responsible, that they can take decisions, that they have the freedom to act, are much more productive, motivated and self-assured. They feel good and work better, even if managers can’t believe that.

“Contradiction 09 > Up-and-In Human Resource Management: Appeal to Human Compassion to increase Industrial Production”

Every company consists of people and brands, not machines. People care for machines. Machines do not care for people. So you always should care for your people first to build a world class team, department or corporation.

“Contradiction 10 > Resource Base: Say No to Shortcuts for Long-Term Gains”

In most instances shortcuts are detours – because we lost our initial destination and we just believe we found a shortcut. A strategy full of shortcuts is no strategy. A good strategy connects from here to vision in a straight line.

> To learn more about Toyota and the 10 contradictions please have a look at the book itself.