There was a policy briefing for employees before the press had their chance, and the Q&A was unscripted and uncensored. The eight executives in attendance shared their true feelings with the crowd.
Say hello to your opposition
There was a live broadcast for all those employees who couldn't make it in person to the policy briefing.
At this point, Tomikawa offered up questions from the different regions.
—How do I deal with those who try to get in the way when I try to take on a new challenge?
It doesn't say if they mean from inside the company or outside.
A new challenge means changing the setup or methods you've used in your work, so it really is easy to feel resistant to change.
There are also some elements that look right from one viewpoint, but when viewed from the opposite side look negative.
But you're probably both saying the same thing. That you just want to make better cars.
But if you don't consider the other's feelings, then you just start to think, “Why don't they understand? They're just standing in the way.”
Now, at Toyota, we're trying to take a more holistic viewpoint with the “YOU perspective.” So, if you try stepping back and looking at cars as a whole, thinking about what's actually good, you might find that they're not getting in the way at all.
People like that could actually just be filled with true passion, and if you get them on your side, they'll be amazing partners.
I think things would get better if everyone tried to take the other's viewpoint and share it.
Mr. Nakajima and I don't really think about carmaking the same way, after all. (Laughs)
Vice President Nakajima
We really don't. We argue a lot!
But when we get deep into conversation, about what we want to make and for what kind of customers, we really understand each other, like “So, this is what you meant by what you said, Koji,” and “So, that's what you want to do, Nakajima.”
So, if there's someone resisting you, first, you should say “thank you.” When someone opposes you, but you still manage to share (your ideals), it boosts your power by two or three times. So, when you encounter resistance, start off by saying “hello!” (Laughs)
This certainly is a team approach, and with Koji as the new captain, I'm starting to see how you will manage as a team. It could really come in handy when your opinion differs from those around you, and things just don't seem to be going well.
The next thrilling car?
—Last year, we released two very thrilling cars in the new Crown and Prius, so will similarly thrilling cars come out this year and next?
This question was addressed to CBO Humphries. It was just the kind of thing every car lover at Toyota wants to know.
“How much can I say?” Humphries wondered as he looked at the others around him. Tomikawa reassured him, “Just whatever you can”, and the response was “We have so many!”
“The (censored car) is coming out this year. That's going to be so cool. And the (censored car) will be cool, too. Oh, and then...” he went on, and on.
After he'd run down the list, he said, “I think this is going to be a very big year. Look forward to it!” and the crowd went wild.
Meanwhile, CCO Nagata and CPO Shingo exchanged looks. “He spilled everything!” they said with a grimace.
A request from CCO Nagata
The last question was a fantastical one aimed at President Sato, who often talked about how “making cars is fun” in all kinds of venues.
—If money was no object, what kind of car would you like to make?
I think this is a question about mobility. Well, Koji, how about for the future?
Forgetting about money, I do have this desire to create “the one car” I can't help but love, that responds perfectly to my control, based on my own ideas.
If I did have the money, I'd like to make a car that was one of a kind and you couldn't find anywhere else.
That day, at the entrance ceremony, President Sato had said, “On this special day, we wanted cars to play a starring role in the memories we make. We want you to feel that you, too, are now carmakers,” and the executives had displayed their favorite cars. There were Lexus, Crown, Corolla, and other models, and each represented “the one car” for the members of this new team.
I think this company is filled with car lovers. That's why I want us to be able to keep making cars that lots of people can enjoy driving.
And it really would have been good if Mr. Nagata had brought that other car, not the Supra.
It seems that CCO Nagata has a favorite car that’s not a Toyota. It wasn’t named, but when the mic went to CCO Nagata, he made this request to President Sato and Vice President Nakajima:
(As a non-engineer) I don't make cars, but please, Koji, Mr. Nakajima, make a convertible. Toyota just doesn't have many cars like that. Please!
I really wanted to bring my convertible, but the badge (brand) is different, so I didn’t.
CCO Nagata's plea got the biggest round of applause of the day.
The Q&A session took around an hour and ended with a celebratory mood. To close things, President Sato said, “I wanted to share the personality of the new team, how they think, and the mood here.” It certainly seemed to have lessened the distance between the team and their employees.