In the New Year’s Message Akio delivered as Executive Vice President in January 2007
In starting the new year of 2007, Akio Toyoda, then executive vice president overseeing purchasing at Toyota, gave a new year’s message to its members. By that time, Toyota had gone through a rapid growth of its vehicle production volume, but at the same time, people had started to question whether the company was keeping up with its quality as well.
As the head of the group that ensures quality together with suppliers, Akio gave an analogy of “dentists” to explain his thoughts on what a company should value and stand for.
“Let me share with you a story of the ‘three dentists in France.’
The first dentist puts up a sign that touts, ‘The Best Dentist in the World.’ The second one says, ‘The Best Dentist in France.’ Lastly, the third said ‘The Best Dentist in Town.’ Which dentist do you think the people in town would trust the most and go to see? I think we know the answer.
The same could be applied to our business. We cannot make customers happy by just promoting the total number of vehicles. Becoming the best in town is what is most important. Toyota affiliates, plants, distributers and dealerships should always aim to be the best-in-town company that people in their respective towns trust the most.”
It is interesting that such a simple yet insightful philosophy was conveyed by a leader at one of the largest global companies. Akio stressed the importance of thinking more about the people in front of you, those that you can actually hear from, rather than pursing intangible goals.
As we now go through a paradigm shift in what people value, this “best-in-town” way of thinking, focusing on who it is that you want to make happy, may help guide you in making the right decisions.