1. Toyota Leadership Changes Signal New Direction, Analysts Say

    April 18, 2013 by ahmed

    Toyota motor is the largest car manufacturer in the world, Toyota name is associated with quality and reliable cars. Unfortunately, its image was badly hurt by a safety-related recall of more than 7 million cars.

    The incidents raised questions about the company’s quality control and customer service. The company was criticized for its slow response to react and manage the crisis, which was due to the management structure that prevented quick decisions.

    The company also suffered from a supply-chain disruptions post to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but in spite of the difficult years Toyota has returned to No. 1 largest automaker in 2012 for the first time in two years.

    So, how has Toyota managed to achieve this?

    For the first time in its history Toyota started a series of promotions and appointments of senior managers and board members from outside of Toyota. Is that an indicator of culture change in Toyota? It could be.

    To know more about the new appointments, read Industry Week article below.

    Note: Industry Week magazine is one of the leading magazines in the industrial sector, it’s is available in full-text up to date as part of BPIR membership, join now to and get access to 600+ periodical.


    Toyota’s management style has been criticized in recent years as too parochial for a global business, and its shortcomings were highlighted by a slow response to the recall of millions of vehicles since 2009 over safety defects.

    A management shake-up at Toyota heralds a new era that will force the firm to look beyond the narrow confines of corporate life in Japan and help it in the global marketplace, analysts said on Thursday.

    The world’s largest automaker said it had appointed three outside board members for the first time, and would appoint non-Japanese CEOs in the U.S., Africa and Latin America, in addition to Europe.

    It marks a huge shift for Toyota (IW 1000/5), which had always followed traditional Japanese management practices, with most of its executives and senior managers picked from people who had risen through the ranks.

    But its management style had come in for criticism in recent years as too parochial for a global business, and its shortcomings were highlighted by a slow response to the recall of millions of vehicles since 2009 over safety defects.

    Analysts said they hoped the changes would lead to a new management approach.

    “Toyota’s leadership changes portend a new era,” said James Post, an expert on corporate governance at Boston University School of Management.

    “New directors, drawn from beyond Japan’s shores, will help develop a truly global view at the top,” he added.

    The overhaul includes the appointment of Mark Hogan, an American who used to work for arch-rival General Motors, who will become the first foreign businessman to sit on the Toyota board without having come from the ranks of the company.

    The two others appointed to the board are Japanese – Ikuo Uno, executive adviser for Nippon Life Insurance, and Haruhiko Kato, president of Japan Securities Depository Center.

    The leadership shuffle came after a few difficult years for Toyota, which included the huge recalls that were both expensive and embarrassing.

    “Toyota has always been criticized on its quality of corporate governance,” Koichi Sugimoto, a senior analyst at BNP Paribas said. “We expect something positive to come out of this new system.”

    Critics have also said the traditional Japanese management style practiced by Toyota focused on team spirit and consensus, and produced bosses who tried to avoid making waves and were unprepared to take risks.

    However, previous attempts to bring international members onto Toyota’s board have not gone well.

    The first foreigner promoted onto the board was American Jim Press, who was given a seat in 2007 after nearly four decades with the company. However, he resigned from the post after just five months and went to rival carmaker Chrysler.

    President Akio Toyoda said he hoped the shake-up would cement Toyota’s recovery from the quake-tsunami in 2011, which hammered production and sales, as well as floods in Thailand that hit key suppliers.

    Industry Week, 7-Mar-2013

  2. What is Governance? A simple but non-trivial overview

    February 14, 2012 by admin

    Board governance, or corporate governance, simply refers to the job of the Board of Directors. Boards are sandwiched between shareholders (or some other kind of ownership) on one side, and the CEO and staff on the other side. Because the ultimate authority for an organisation comes directly form its owners the role of Boards involves:

    1. Regular dialogue with the owners to establish what results are expected.
    2. Translation of the owner’s expectations into written criteria (policy) for success.
    3. Monitor to check that the criteria were actually met.

    Boards of course may do a number of other things, but their core governance functions are simply as stated above – Ownership Linkage, Writing policy, and Monitoring outcomes.

    Governance exists in order to translate the wishes of an organisation’s owners into organisational performance” Dr. John Carver

    The following clip is narrated by Susan Mogensten of Brown Dog Consulting

    What is Governance?  A simple but non-trivial overview


    Our next Best Practice Report which is due for publication in March 2012 will cover the subject of Corporate Governance in detail.

    If you are not already a BPIR member this is an excellent time to consider joining to enjoy the many BPIR membership benefits.

    Neil Crawford

  3. 40 Lessons to Learn from Southwest

    August 30, 2011 by

    Southwest Airlines is the largest airline in the US, based on domestic passengers carried and one of the most profitable airline companies (at least in the US). On 18th June 2011 Southwest celebrated their 40th anniversary of being in business. To highlight its success Southwest Airlines published 40 lessons to learn in their in-flight magazine “Spirit”.

    The 40 lessons details many of the best practices that are often highlighted by business authors and consultants. In my opinion, the one thing that is clearly different is that Southwest Airlines does not just talk about these concepts, they apply them every day and every time.

    These lessons are universal and if you learn and apply them then you can be successful as well. So read the article and use it as checklist for  "how are we are doing".

    The 40 lessons are below and you can download the full article from here.

    Ahmed Abbas

    40 Lessons to Learn from Southwest Airlines 

    1. Keep the idea simple enough to draw on a napkin.

    2. A legend is an asset.

    3. Hire a good lawyer.

    4. Raise more money than you think you need. Now double it.

    5. Crazy is no liability.

    6. Find Executives who look like they walked off the set of "The Expendables".

    7. Target the overcharged and underserved.

    8. Be the good guy.

    9. Two strikes is one hit away from a home run.

    10. Recognize your luck.

    11. Lack of money makes you frugal.

    12. Gain talk equity.

    13. Promote from within.

    14. If the zeitgeist works for you, use it.

    15. Invent your own Culture and put a top person in charge of it.

    16. A Culture has its own language.

    17. The legal part is never over.

    18. Have a recognizable home.

    19. A crisis can contain the germ of a big idea.

    20. Simplicity has value.

    21. It doesn’t hurt to look like a toy.

    22. Remember your chief mission.

    23. Instead of whining, give a lollipop.

    24. It helps to have an extroverted Leader.

    25. Get into fun advertising wars.

    26. Take your business, not yourself, seriously.

    27. See your business as a cause.

    28. Put the worker first.

    29. Sweat the small stuff, but try not to lawyer it.

    30. Beware of imitators, but take them as a compliment.

    31. The Web ain’t cool, it’s a tool.

    32. Set and renew noble expectations.

    33. Increasing size should make you a force for good.

    34. Get green.

    35. It’s about Customer Service, not "scalability."

    36. Listen to advice, then celebrate it.

    37. Pick your peaks and stick to them.

    38. Manage permanence.

    39. Never rest on your laurels or you will get a thorn in your, um, butt.

    40. It’s OK to be unprofitable for a year.

  4. The King’s Speech: The first executive coach?

    May 26, 2011 by
    Vivian Vella , a Cranfield MBA visiting professor, explains why the movie The King’s Speech is a great example of executive coaching in action.


    A script of the interview follows the video.

    Steve Macaulay
    The film The King’s Speech has attracted a lot of attention. Now, it did so at Cranfield  too, but for different reasons probably from most people. Lionel Logue, the speech therapist, in our eyes, looks to be the first executive coach and we thought it worthwhile asking somebody that knows about executive coaching to explore this further. Vivian Vella, you have got a lot of experience of executive coaching, can you see parallels?

    Vivian Vella
    Absolutely – a brilliant film. There were two main parallels for me. And I think the first thing that really shows up in that the relationship is key between the coach and the coachee, in terms of the coach creating a safe environment where leaders – and in the film’s case, the King, a very high leader – where it can be quite lonely at the top. And to be able to have a space where a little bit of vulnerability can be shown, so that some things can be addressed in a safe and challenging, a supportive and challenge environment that is provided by a coach.

    Steve Macaulay
    Now I noticed that one of the things the King did was to rebel a bit and that Lionel tackled him on this and there was really quite an emotional moment during the film.

    Vivian Vella
    Absolutely, and that brings me on to the second point really. I think what that relationship and the coaching process shows, is there are two different types of coaching; there is developmental and transformational. The developmental part is the skills and techniques that are absolutely appropriate to learn and to develop strengths and to do things differently, to exercise the metaphorical muscle that isn’t used as much. And of course, in the film it was very literal in terms of using muscles that you didn’t use. So that is absolutely valid. And there is a transformational piece and I think it was in that relationship where there was a bit of rupture and the King got connected to something very different – a very different place in him. I think he got connected to his anger actually and passion and when he came back he was absolutely ready to do the real work because it is not easy necessarily. And that was a transformational piece; it transformed their relationship and the real work could be done at that point to lead to success.

    Steve Macaulay
    Now executive coaching seems to have become, almost from nowhere really, something that has become very popular in the business world – why do you think that is?

    Vivian Vella
    I think it is something about pace, actually. We live in a frenetic world and leaders and managers go from one place to the next and increasing demands are made on them and I think a coaching process supports their learning and gives them an opportunity to have a reflective space, actually. Evidence has shown, in terms of studies – it is up here on our website – around formal learning, it’s about 10% effective and it has its place. Twenty percent of effective learning is done through others and I think programmes encompass both of those elements, experiential programmes. And the 70% piece in terms of effective learning is on the job learning and I think the coaching process really offers that. Because when you set up an initial contract with a coachee you have certain goals and objectives that you want to achieve. Those might have come out of some 360 or psychometric profiling – in The King’s Speech there was a very definite speech that had to be done and delivered correctly. But the on the job piece is that you have these very special conversations that address what is absolutely relevant at the time for the coachee in service of achieving those ultimate goals. So it is not a linear process necessarily, although ultimately you want to see a visible difference in the business, but you address what is key for the coachee at that time. And I think that is what makes the relationship very special, in terms of having this place to be able to do this and have those sorts of conversations .I think Peter Hawkins refers to the coaching conversation and he is Chair of the Bath Consultancy Group and has written about coaching ,mentoring and consulting and he calls it ‘a robust dialogue born of fearless compassion’ which I think really sums it up; and you don’t often get that sort of quality in a conversation in service of helping somebody’s learning.

    Steve Macaulay
    So is that what makes it special – you have got some goals to aim for and you have got this fearlessness about tackling issues that maybe wouldn’t get tackled otherwise?

    Vivian Vella
    Absolutely; in a trusted environment and that is key. So that you have the relationship there and there is a lot of learning actually within the relations and I think we saw that in the film as well. Because what goes on in the coaching relationship will be observed because it can actually be reflecting what goes on outside. So your experience of the coachee will be in part how they are experienced back in the business. And a coach can make those observations, which can be really useful learning for the individual.

    Steve Macaulay
    One of the things that I noticed in the film was that over time the King started to say well I don’t need to see you so often now, to Lionel; is this the sort of thing that you would expect or is a bit of lifelong relationship?
    Vivian Vella
    I think that is really appropriate actually and it comes to working with an ethical code. I think that normal practice would be to contract at the beginning, with the coachee, what it is that you are there to address in terms of their learning, how many sessions you would want to initially contract with so that there is a checkpoint that could be re-contracted at any point, but that you have some boundaries around that. And of course, the main focus of supporting the coachee in their learning is that they become independent learners so that they don’t foster a co-dependency in that relationship and that is another reason it is important for the supervisor to check that that is not happening.

    Steve Macaulay
    So there is more to this coaching than meets the eye, but I think what you have done is give us some very useful pointers there. Thank you very much, Vivian.

    Vivian’s contact details are shown here.

  5. Is Leadership Your Strength?

    November 14, 2010 by

    John Baldoni [1] an internationally recognised leadership consultant, coach, speaker, and author asks some probing questions concerning leadership:

    • Do people come to you with their problems? If people feel comfortable to raise issues with you then you have created an atmosphere of cooperation. It has been said that “if people are not coming to you with their problems, you have a problem”
    • Do people see you as one who deals with tough issues or one who avoids them? If you stand up for what needs doing and the people who do it, no matter how tough the situation, you are someone to follow. If you seek to avoid conflict, confrontation, or big problems, then leadership is not your strength.
    • Do people see you in the workplace? When you visit people in the workplace you honour them, and you also expose yourself to their working conditions, the problems they face, and the potential opportunities for development.
    • Do you learn from what you hear? Listening is a commitment to others. Open yourself to the ideas that you hear. Listen to both the problems and the opportunities.
    • Do people view me as one who takes the blame and shares the credit?  Alabama football coach Bear Bryant put it this way when he said:
    • "If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games."

    Leadership is really not about you. It is about how you put others into position where they can succeed. Leadership involves making decisions about what to do and why. Reflecting on your performance as a leader is in itself an act of leadership.

    [1] R11013 Baldoni, J., (2010), What Does the Organization Need Me to Do?, The Journal for Quality and Participation, Vol 33, Iss 1, pp 10-14, Association for Quality and Participation, Cincinnati

    Neil Crawford

    Members may read the full article which provides further advice about employee job satisfaction here