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Toyota Under Fire: Lessons for Turning Crisis into Opportunity Hardcover – April 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"I was so captivated by the book I almost forgot to take notes for the review :)  It reads like an episode of Law & Order.  I loved it."
--John Wetzel, Lean for Everyone

The story is both fascinating and frustrating as Toyota's technically oriented culture... is confounded and overwhelmed by (rumors and innuendo) of a political and litigation culture.

Instead of relying upon the superficial media reporting done by organizations like the L.A. Times...Liker and Ogden...worked to...sort out the basic facts.

(Toyota Under Fire shows)  a firmer grasp of the technological issues at stake than most of the lawmakers - and some of the supposed experts - who were quick to pillory Toyota a year ago. " --Financial Times

Toyota Under Fire is a powerful reminder of the many lessons that emerged from one of the most intense and unexpected automotive industry events in recent years.

From the Author

As I lived through the Toyota recall crisis I got frustrated that there was so much misinformation propagated by the mainstream media.  At the time I was working with Tim Ogden who was helping on a book about Toyota leadership and we decided to put that aside for the moment and focus on the crisis.  This book begins with an explanation of the Toyota Way and how it brought Toyota from a small back woods loom maker to becoming one of the most admired companies leading up to the twin crises of the Great Recession and the recalls.  We describe and analyze in detail how Toyota responded to the recession and then in rapid fire succession the first major attack on their credibility as a company spearheaded by the American media and trial lawyers with their expert witnesses.  Toyota's response in both cases was to follow the Toyota Way to emerge from both crises stronger than ever.  There are lessons to learn for any company going through a crisis.
Jeff Liker
Author of "The Toyota Way"

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 237 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (April 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 007176299X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071762991
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
"Problems first" is one of the tenets of Toyota's unique management approach and, indeed, the company is even more interesting to observe when it is dealing with catastrophic events - it's ability for self-correction and drawing powerful conclusions, emerging stronger from its trials has been, historically, astounding.

When all pundits were claiming the "end of Toyota", "this time Toyota has gone too far" "Toyota has lost its way", these authors have resisted the siren song of the lynch mob and conducted an in-depth, fact-based investigation in what was really happening within Toyota. What they found was, first, a giant automotive company that hit the worst industrial crisis of working memory, a crisis that has claimed the life of no other than GM and has cost millions of taxpayers dollars to salvage the industry, and yet Toyota reacted without laying off any permanent employees or asking for subsidies. indeed it used the downtime to increase training and focus on improving its factory quality. This is an astounding industrial feat, and reading the account made by the authors is more than enlightening; it's inspiring. Corporations need not be slaves to the market, or justify treating people without respect because of "market conditions". Toyota demonstrates how faced with overwhelming market conditions, companies can still stick to their agreements and engage every one in working together towards turnaround.

Second, as it was still reeling from the impact of the great recession, Toyota was bizarely attacked in the court of public opinion for designing "unsafe" cars, with everyone from the government to Toyota experts piling on to fuel the hysteria.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joseph F Ely on April 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book was very enjoyable yet in a surprising way.

From the title and description, I expected a blow-by-blow review of the details of the rigors of the safety recalls and public scrutiny of Congress following the awful crashes of Toyota cars. I also expected this to be set against the context of the recession. This is certainly part of the book. But not the most useful.

As someone who has followed and sought to emulate Toyota's manufacturing excellence for well over a decade now, what really grabbed me was the authors' ability to see behind the decisions and into the decision-making process of Toyota. They described this well and clearly. For example, the discussions of company governance, it's influence on the timing and nature of decisions, was deeply helpful.

Toyota's system, now famous, are merely the outward expressions of a disciplined and deeply-ingrained approach to creating clarity out of the chaos which is business and manufacturing. This book enables the reader to better understand why. This is key because it is short-sighted to merely seek to imitate the Toyota Production System. Much better to understand the thinking and then flesh it out in one's own context.

Jeff Liker, again, adds well to the knowledge of Toyota.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karen Martin on March 16, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
There may be no other company that has faced as protracted and deep scrutiny as Toyota has over the past year-and-a-half. But while the media was reporting half-truths that fueled an outpouring of emotion bordering on hysteria, two men were methodically searching for the truth, sorting out fact from fiction. The result, Toyota Under Fire, is an important and compelling piece of work - in many ways perhaps even more so than The Toyota Way, in helping us understand the management philosophy and practices that have led to Toyota's success, and have allowed it to weather a potentially debilitating storm that many companies may not have recovered from.

In some ways Toyota Under Fire reads more like a thriller than a business book. Liker and Ogden have created an easy read that takes a hard look at ALL of the facts, not just the ones the general public was privy to. And they do a brilliant job at outlining the leadership behaviors that anyone can use to mitigate and manage business crises. It's a thought-provoking book that caused me to once again rethink western business practices, while it deepened my respect for a company that trumps most others in terms of humility, problem-solving acumen, and process management know-how.

Every leader and improvement professional should read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Buck on May 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Toyota Under Fire" by Jeffrey Liker and Timothy Ogden is a highly recommended book for leaders, Lean-thinkers, and people interested in media criticism.

I initially thought it would solely be about the recall crisis which NASA has already vindicated the company. The book also details the challenges faced by Toyota during the recession. The authors provide candid information about how the company could have done better and show how they turned the crisis into an opportunity to become stronger.

The final chapter transforms Toyota's story during the crisis into lessons other organizations can use to help them be prepared for a crisis.

The book helped understand the power of the Toyota Way and reaffirms why they are a company to be admired. There are many great insights into the thinking of the people in the organization. Some of my favorites were about how deeply respect for people is practiced, the examples of how important it is to be close to the problem to be able to improve it, the importance of culture, and how the five why's were used to accept responsibility of the problem.

For those interested in media criticism, this book provides a lot of data that was distorted or omitted in the news during the recalls. The examples of sensationalized reports with no follow-through once disproven will serve as a reminder to take what we consume from the news with a grain of salt.

One thing I found surprising in the book is that many cited sources were from bloggers and websites. Since the traditional media seemed slanted against Toyota, these other sources appear more neutral.

Liker and Ogden's book show how Toyota practices the Toyota Way. It is not just about theory and philosophy but a demonstration of how it was recently done. This was an excellent book.
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