It saddens me to hear what is happening to Toyota right now.
They have been such a strongly values driven company, and it seems they became focused on growth and did not see the scale of the quality problem. And what a cost they are paying now. How can they even calculate the damage to their brand, their sales, the consumer"s trust in their cars? Consumers will be scared that their accelerator pedal may jam down, causing their car to speed up uncontrollably and result in some of the horrific accidents now described in the media. Compare what is happening now to Toyota to the legendary recall of their product Tylenol, which cemented their reputation with consumers and employees as being a company who truly lived by their "Credo"
Growth or values? What happens when they appear to be in conflict? What do values really mean in the corporate context? There can appear to be many shades of gray. Most people belief they are doing the right thing, or persuade themselves that this is the case. It takes a level of self awareness to be willing to question ones own actions, and a culture which welcomes constructive challenge to question those of others. Here are five questions to ask in relation to values, and the extent to which you are prepared to be values driven in your approach to decisions. They can form the basis of a whole workshop. In the strongest cultures they are always in people"s minds.
- What are we NOT prepared to do to pursue a profit?
- Are people supported to say "no", or "blow the whistle"?
- Are our values a means to an end or an end in themselves?
- Are we doing this because it is simply the right thing to do (rather as just a means to an end)?
- Do we avoid tough conversations because they would expose whether we are really behaving in line with our stated values?
The Toyota experience builds the case to demonstrate the cost of becoming less vigilant on adhering strictly to values. The link to the article at the beginning of this blog provides some powerful evidence of just how large this cost can be. We can all become better at demonstrating the return on investment in culture, and here is another piece of powerful evidence.