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How Toyota Became #1: Leadership Lessons from the World's Greatest Car Company Hardcover – November 1, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Magee, a columnistat the Chattanooga Times Free Press, ably chronicles the rise of leading auto manufacturer Toyota and the underlying principles that led to its ascendancy. From lean production to a long-term focus to specialized philosophies like kaizen (a system of continuous improvement in which instances of waste are eliminated one by one) and genchi genbutsu (a belief in practical experience over theoretical knowledge), Magee documents each contributing factor in Toyota's success. Going back as far as Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda's father Sakichi Toyoda, a successful inventor who inspired and financed the car company's first operations, Magee takes the reader through the company's current challenges and achievements. While he delivers some fresh ideas on how to foster innovation within a particular industry, his overwhelming praise for Toyota's methods reads suspiciously like hagiography, despite his frequent assurances that he wrote the book in complete objectivity with no involvement or influence from the company. Still, this work will interest those involved in the automotive world or similar industries. (Nov. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“From its renowned production system to its unerring sense of customers' tastes, the factors that fueled Toyota's drive to the summit of the auto industry are all well recounted here.”

“Magee runs through lessons in leadership and strategy, weaving in colorful snippets from Toyota's 70-year history.”
Fast Company

“David Magee convincingly argues that the spirit of Toyota people, as much as anything, has determined Toyota's success.”

“When it comes to Toyota’s success, Mr. Magee credits the company’s internal realities….he celebrates Toyota’s willingness to acknowledge production problems quickly, to adapt its methods to varying markets (thus defying a stereotype of management rigidity), and to ask for feedback from its workers—thereby ‘empowering’ them”
Wall Street Journal

“Magee provides an excellent view of a shining business model that encompasses not only Toyota’s highly espoused lean production system but also its leadership values and unique corporate culture.”

“This inspirational book is essential reading for both human resource professionals and business executives”
Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; 1 edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841798
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841791
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle of this book, "Leadership Lessons from the World's Greatest Car Company", let's the reader know that this is really a book targeted to the insatiable market for people looking to develop their business leadership skills rather than a scholarly analysis of Toyota's rise to leadership in the auto industry suggested by the title. We don't get a penetrating analysis of the automobile markets or how the national markets have developed into a global market over the past 50 years or a deep look at the macroeconomic conditions facing the American versus the Japanese (or the European) car makers. Nor do we get a consistent set of measures that capture the shifting ups and downs among the various car companies over decades.

Basically, we get a hagiography of Toyota that does everything right for noble reasons that are justly rewarded by the marketplace and a bunch of bumbling and undeserving American car companies get the pounding they deserve. While those of us who have grown up in Detroit over the past decades know very well that the Big 3 have made huge mistakes and have persisted in behaviors that have exacerbated their decline, we also know there are additional reasons helping Toyota and hurting Detroit. For example, do we even get a simple comparison between the demographics, pay, and benefits in the Japanese plants in America versus the plants of GM, Ford, and Chrysler? Nothing much beyond the $2,500 cost advantage Toyota enjoys and blaming the union contracts with the UAW.

Certainly, there is truth in blaming the US auto companies and praising Toyota, but not much beyond Toyota's ethos is explained in this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Several years ago when explaining the success of Southwest Airlines, then CEO Herb Kelleher observed that "the intangibles are far more important than the tangibles in the competitive world because, obviously, you can replicate the tangibles. You can get the same airplane. You can get the same ticket counters. You can get the same computers. But the hardest thing for a competitor to match is your culture and the spirit of your people and their focus on customer service because that isn't something you can do overnight and it isn't something you can do without a great deal of attention every day in a thousand different ways. That is why I say that our employees are our competitive protection." The same could be said about Toyota Motor Corporation. As David Magee clearly indicates in this volume, Toyota would not have been able to achieve and then sustain the excellence of its automotive products without "a professional lifestyle - a proven and time-tested way of progression, improvement, ambition, and betterment" for its employees and especially for its customers. Magee focuses on the most valuable and useful leadership lessons to be learned from Toyota's unique approach to business.

Here is one of them. Gary Convis (Toyota's top manufacturing executive in the US when interviewed by Magee) recalled being advised by his superior to avoid being a dictatorial boss and to manage as if he had no power. For example, he went to a superior to get sign-off for a large capital expenditure. He had researched the need and presented the findings to his boss. The superior, ultimately responsible for the decision, told Convis to make the decision himself and come back to him not with a request for approval but with a recommendation. "It turned the worm for me," says Convis.
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Format: Hardcover
Toyota production system starts with a respect for the individual. Respect for the individual means listening and learning to worker. The worker should have the courage to speak up when problems are identified.

The work place should be comfortable, free of free, and dynamically improving each day. Each day should be glorious opportunity to reduce waste, improve process, and make life for others better. Business is a community. Profits are the result of great communities improving their life and the lives of others.

Toyota realized that success could be their greatest enemy. The reason for danger is complacency due to a lack of urgency to continuously improve. Improvement is a balance between manpower, resources, and machines to remove waste.

How did Toyota improve quality in the 1990s? Improving supplier efficiency turned out to be a big win for Toyota. Watanabe worked with suppliers to remove waste and decrease part cost. Toyota engineers worked with part suppliers to simplify parts and reduce component leading to cost savings. Toyota create automobile platforms where the same parts could be used on multiple vehicle types. Toyota set out to discover the source of their problems talking with customer, suppliers, and dealers.

What are the types of waste in production? Overproduction, waiting, unnecessary transport or conveyance, overprocessing or incorrect processing, excess inventory, unnecessary movement, defects, and unused employee creativity. The goal of toyota is reduce the number of Kanban or empty bins of parts used in assembly.
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