It’s been about a year since I came here from Subaru, and I’ve noticed a difference in corporate culture between Toyota and Subaru. How do you feel about Subaru’s employees and its corporate culture? Please share any thoughts you might have.
I visited the Technical Center in Mitaka the other day with President Nakamura (of Subaru) after we announced our business alliance. This is a question that I’m always asked when I go there. My impression of Subaru as a whole is that all the employees feel a strong love for Subaru. They love the company, as well as its cars. If Subaru’s originality lies in its boxer engines and 4WDs, they have a love for those, too. That’s my impression of Subaru. But there is one drawback, I think, and that is its stubbornness.
When I visited Subaru’s Head Office in Ebisu, one of the employees said to me, “Mr. Toyoda, you’ve seen a lot, but you only mention the good things about Subaru. Tell us what you think our shortcomings are.” So, I answered, “People have their strengths and weaknesses. If I had the choice of becoming a person with 99 weaknesses and one strength, or a person with 99 strengths and one weakness, well, I’m actually someone with 99 weaknesses, so I would take my one strength and hone it to the point that no one could outdo me in that regard.”
You often find people like that, right? People who are good overall, but have one shortcoming that you can’t ignore? I told the employee that I didn’t want to become someone like that. So, Subaru employees should continue loving Subaru, their 4WDs and their boxer engines. Then the employee asked me, “Your reply makes me want to know even more what you think Subaru’s shortcomings are.”
So, I immediately responded, “It’s that stubbornness!” Everyone seemed satisfied with my answer.
Stubbornness can be a shortcoming, but I also believe it can be a strength. That stubbornness may also be persistence. We (Toyota) formed an alliance on an even footing by mutually agreeing to share our strengths. I believe the top executives of Subaru, led by President Nakamura, made a very bold decision. That’s why it’s extremely important for us to work together like this, and I would like to ask everyone for their cooperation.
President Nakamura will be coming to visit this office. When I took a tour of Subaru’s office, President Nakamura told me to invite him to one of Toyota’s offices in return. So, I have a request for everyone. When President Nakamura comes, I want everyone to say, “Welcome,” to him in unison. It’ll be much easier to talk to him after that. I don’t even care if it’s completely staged. I want you to say this as soon as you see President Nakamura, and do it like it’s something you do all the time. Just say, “Welcome”.