By Jon Miller | Post Date: March 27, 2007 9:17 PM | Comments: 3
There is a curious mention of Nissan purchasing an American automobile factory before World War II and moving it to Japan in chapter 21 of Taiichi Ohno's Workplace Management:
Before the war Nissan had purchased an American factory and moved it all over to Japan, and there were even engineers from overseas who came along. So in that sense, Nissan must have been much more advanced than Toyota.
Nissan got a head start on Toyota by moving an American factory with American engineering know-how, to Japan. Toyota didn't have the money so they had to figure it out for themselves.
Doing some research on on Taiichi Ohno recently, I came across a passage from an interview with Ohno where he names the factory that Nissan purchased. It was a Graham-Paige factory. Unless you are a classic car buff, Graham-Paige may not ring a bell. It took me some Google work to find out more about them. This Wikipedia entry has an interesting summary of Graham-Paige history with some nice photos of their cars. No mention of their factory being sold to Nissan though.
Chapter 21 is titled "Rationalization is Doing What is Rational" and the theme of the chapter is that when something has been thoroughly kaizened, or rationalized, it appears as nothing special. If you see a factory that makes you think "Wow!" then that is probably a bad factory. Being thorough with the most humble, obvious, seemingly common sense things is the sign of a rationalized factory.
General Motors is pondering the purchase of Chrysler. Seriously? It is "rationalization" in a sense, but is this rational? What do they hope to gain other than market share? What do they hope to learn? Is that question even being asked?
In the short term, grabbing market share by buying a competitor may seem like a good idea. If a leader is rewarded on short-term performance, that is what a leader may do. In the long term, figuring out for yourself how to do it better than the competition is a better idea. The Toyota way is based on long-term thinking. That may be the hardest lesson to learn of all for our leaders to learn.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.