How Toyota became the most innovative car company in the world

This weekend's New York Times Magazine featured a great cover story on Toyota, which explained how the Japanese company has become the acknowledged leader in the global automobile industry. At a time when Ford and GM are downsizing and rightsizing, the incredible Toyota engineering team continues to get things right. The latest product is the Toyota Tundra, a new full-size truck designed with Red State America in mind. With Toyota, small incremental innovations snowball over time into huge improvements in productivity, efficiency and output. By the end of 2007, Toyota could pass GM as the world's largest car company. Already, the company's stock market capitalization is $240 billion - higher than that of GM, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, Honda and Nissan combined. If Toyota were a baseball team, surmises Jon Gertner of the New York Times, it would be the type of team that wins 150 out of 162 games.


Anyway, if you're looking for some Japanese management buzzwords to inject into your cocktail conversations, the article explains concepts like kaizen ("continuous improvement") and genchi genbutsu ("what customers want in a car or truck and how any current versions come up short"). What's cool is that Toyota engineering and design teams actually make archaeological visits to truck graveyards in Michigan, where they examine the rusting hulks of old trucks: "With so many retired trucks in one place, they also gained a better sense of how trucks had evolved over the past 30 years - becoming larger, more various, more luxurious - and where they might go next." (In addition to this great quote about evolution, the article highlights the importance of Toyota's DNA -- both topics, of course, that relate directly to the Endless Innovation blog!)

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

Why Henry David Thoreau was drawn to yoga

The famed author headed to the pond thanks to Indian philosophy.

Image: Public Domain / Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
  • The famed author was heavily influenced by Indian literature, informing his decision to self-exile on Walden Pond.
  • He was introduced to these texts by his good friend's father, William Emerson.
  • Yoga philosophy was in America a century before any physical practices were introduced.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less
Photo: Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
    • A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 80 percent of Americans don't exercise enough.
    • Small breaks from work add up, causing experts to recommend short doses of movement rather than waiting to do longer workouts.
    • Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
    Keep reading Show less