Tag Archives: Toyota

Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability?

Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability?Quality used to mean something to companies.

A century ago, when people parted with their hard-earned money to buy something, they expected it to last one or more lifetimes.

Durability was a key design criteria.

But, as the stock market became more central to the American psyche and to executive compensation, the quality of available products and services began to decline in the name of profits above all else.


Ford Quality is job oneThere was a temporary consumer revolt decades ago that resulted in companies pretending that quality was more important than profits, but it didn’t last long. In the end, Americans accepted the decline in quality as outsourcing and globalization led to declining prices (and of course higher profits) and fewer goods carrying the “Made in the USA” label, quickly replaced by Japan, China, Mexico, Vietnam, Bangladesh and the rest.

An Inconvenient TruthAround the turn of the century we had the birth of the Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) movement followed a few years later by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Perhaps people were beginning to wake up to the fact that our planet’s resources are not infinite and our culture of disposability was catching up to us.

But these movements failed to maintain their momentum and the tidal wave of stores stocking disposable goods continued unabated – dollar stores and party stores spread across the country like a virus. States like New York began shipping their garbage across borders as their landfills reached capacity. Unsold goods began being dumped on the African continent and elsewhere (think about all those t-shirts printed up for the team that didn’t end up winning the Super Bowl).

Is now the time for the winds to shift yet again in favor of quality and sustainability after decades of disposability?

Will more companies better embrace sustainability like Patagonia is attempting to do?

People have been complaining for years about the high cost to repair Apple products and the increasing difficulty of executing these repairs oneself. Recently Apple was FORCED by shareholder activists to allow people to repair their iPhones. Here is their press release that tries to put a positive spin on what they were pressured into doing.

This is the moment for shareholder activists and governments around the world to force companies to design for repairability, reuse and a true accounting of the costs of their products and services inflict upon the populace and the planet. The European Union and Mexico are working together towards this not just because the planet needs this, but because The Circular Economy Creates New Business Opportunities.

Meanwhile, Toyota recently announced that starting this year (2022) in Japan that they will retrofit late-model cars with new technology if the customer desires it. The company aims to let motorists benefit from new technology without having to buy a new car. The LoraxToyota calls this “uppgrading” and defines it as retrofitting safety and convenience functions, like blind spot monitoring, emergency braking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and the addition of a hands-free tailgate or trunk lid. Remodeling will also be an option and will include replacing worn or damaged parts inside and out, such as the upholstery, the seat cushions, and the steering wheel.

Are these two companies voluntary and involuntary actions the beginning of a trend – finally?

Or will the culture of disposability continue unabated until our natural resources are exhausted?

Do we truly live in the land of the Lorax?

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, OldHouseOnline

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Change Leadership for Agile Organizations

Adapting to Rapid Change

Change Leadership for Agile OrganizationsGUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s complex and unpredictable business landscape, change has become a constant rather than an exception. Agile organizations that embrace change and adapt rapidly are more likely to succeed in an increasingly dynamic marketplace. However, achieving agility requires effective change leadership that empowers employees, aligns organizational values, and ensures seamless transitions. In this thought leadership article, we will explore the principles of change leadership for agile organizations through the analysis of two compelling case studies.

Case Study 1: Spotify’s Agile Transformation

In recent years, Spotify, the global music streaming giant, underwent a profound transformation to embrace agile practices and foster a culture of innovation. Their shift from a traditional hierarchical structure to a “tribe-squad-CT” model empowered autonomous cross-functional teams. Top management encouraged experimentation, where squads were free to take calculated risks and learn from failures. This cultural shift required strong change leadership that aligned the organization and inspired employees to embrace change.

Spotify’s change leaders focused on three core aspects:

1. Communicating a Compelling Vision: Leaders articulated a compelling vision that emphasized the need for agility and explained how it aligned with the organization’s strategic goals. They emphasized the benefits of empowerment, collaboration, and adaptability, ensuring that employees felt a sense of purpose and understood the value of change.

2. Nurturing Change Agents: Change leaders identified, trained, and empowered change agents within the organization. These agents served as advocates, mentors, and facilitators of change, supporting their respective teams through the transition. By creating a network of change agents, Spotify established a grassroots movement that accelerated the adoption of agile principles and practices.

3. Encouraging Continuous Learning: Recognizing that agility requires continuous learning, Spotify’s change leaders established a learning-oriented culture. They encouraged employees to embrace experimentation, learn from failures, and share their experiences. This created an environment that fostered innovation, collaboration, and rapid adaptation to change.

The successful transformation of Spotify showcases the effectiveness of change leadership in enabling organizational agility.

Case Study 2: Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing Revolution

Toyota’s journey towards becoming a global leader in automotive manufacturing is a testament to the power of change leadership in fostering agility. In the 1950s, Toyota faced significant challenges, including a resource-constrained post-war economy. They responded by developing the groundbreaking Toyota Production System (TPS), which revolutionized manufacturing processes and established the foundation for lean manufacturing.

Toyota’s change leadership approach encompassed the following elements:

1. Empowering Frontline Employees: Change leaders at Toyota recognized the value of frontline employees’ expertise. They empowered workers to identify and solve problems, emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement. This empowered culture fostered a sense of ownership, creating an environment where employees actively contributed to adapting to rapid changes and driving innovation.

2. Embracing Kaizen: Toyota’s change leaders popularized the Kaizen philosophy of continual improvement throughout the organization. They facilitated cross-functional collaboration and encouraged employees to seek incremental improvements in their work processes. This focus on Kaizen nurtured a culture of proactive responsiveness to change, benefitting not only the production line but the entire organization.

3. Leadership through Servant Mentality: Toyota’s change leaders assumed a servant leadership mentality, seeking to serve and support employees rather than commanding them. Leaders actively listened to the concerns and ideas of employees and provided the necessary resources and guidance to implement change.

By implementing these change leadership principles, Toyota transformed into an agile organization capable of rapidly adapting to shifting consumer demands and market conditions.


Change leadership is the catalyst for agility in organizations navigating rapid change. The case studies of Spotify and Toyota demonstrate how effective change leadership enables organizational adaptability, fosters a culture of innovation, and empowers employees to embrace and drive change. By communicating a compelling vision, nurturing change agents, encouraging continuous learning, empowering frontline employees, embracing Kaizen, and practicing servant leadership, organizations can pave the way for successful transformations in an increasingly volatile business environment. Embracing change leadership is the key to thriving in the face of rapid change.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Co-creating Change

Involving Employees in the Change Process

Co-creating Change

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Change is inevitable in today’s rapidly evolving business environment. To ensure successful and sustainable change initiatives, organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of involving employees in the change process. By harnessing the collective wisdom and creativity of their workforce, companies can effectively co-create change, driving innovation and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. This thought leadership article explores the benefits of employee involvement in change and presents two case studies demonstrating the positive impact of this approach.

Case Study 1: Zappos – Holacracy and Cultural Transformation

Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, embarked on a radical change journey by embracing a self-management system called Holacracy. The company’s CEO, Tony Hsieh, understood the significance of involving employees in the decision-making process to empower and engage them during the change.

Using a participatory approach, Zappos invited employees to provide feedback, suggestions, and ideas through town hall meetings, online forums, and workshops. By involving employees at all levels, they were able to garner a sense of ownership and commitment towards the change initiative.

The shift towards Holacracy resulted in increased employee autonomy, flattened hierarchies, and improved decision-making. By embracing employee perspective and experience, Zappos successfully transformed its organizational culture, fostering a work environment that encourages innovation and collaboration.

Case Study 2: Toyota – Kaizen and Continuous Improvement

Toyota, a pioneer of lean manufacturing practices, exemplifies the power of involving employees in the change process through their Kaizen philosophy. Kaizen, which means “continuous improvement,” is a systematic approach that encourages employees at every level to contribute their ideas to enhance processes, eliminate waste, and drive efficiency.

Toyota prioritizes employee involvement in identifying operational bottlenecks, exploring improvement opportunities, and implementing solutions. They achieve this through suggestion systems, team meetings, and regular communication channels that ensure employees feel heard and valued.

By involving employees in the change journey, Toyota has achieved remarkable results. With over 60 years of continuous improvement, their production facilities have become more flexible, efficient, and capable of delivering higher quality products. The Kaizen mindset, nurtured through employee involvement, has become deeply ingrained in the company’s culture and serves as a foundation for sustained growth and innovation.

Key Benefits of Employee Involvement in Change:

1. Enhanced Ownership and Commitment: Involving employees in the change process creates a sense of ownership, empowering them to actively contribute and take responsibility for the results.

2. Increased Engagement and Motivation: When employees are engaged in change initiatives, they feel valued, leading to higher levels of motivation, job satisfaction, and improved performance.

3. Access to Diverse Perspectives and Ideas: By involving employees, organizations can tap into the collective wisdom and experience of their workforce, generating a broader range of innovative solutions and fostering a culture of creative problem-solving.

4. Improved Change Adoption and Sustainability: Employee involvement increases the chances of successful change adoption and sustainability as employees become advocates for the change, helping their colleagues adapt and overcome resistance.


Involving employees in the change process is vital in today’s dynamic business landscape. The case studies of Zappos and Toyota demonstrate the transformative power of co-creating change with employees. By fostering a culture that embraces employee involvement, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce, enhancing innovation, productivity, and adaptability. Ultimately, organizations that recognize and leverage the contributions of their employees stand the best chance of achieving long-term success in an ever-evolving business world.

SPECIAL BONUS: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pexels

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Dumping Facebook Ads the Obvious Choice for GM

Dumping Facebook Ads the Obvious Choice for GMThe twittersphere erupted with news of GM’s announcement that it was refusing to pay for 2013 Super Bowl advertisements and $10 Million worth of advertising on Facebook.

Much of the popular press and self-proclaimed social media experts are jumping on the bandwagon and calling GM “idiots” for ending their advertising of Facebook and talking about how GM “doesn’t get” social media. If you listen to the amount of noise out there you would think that there was consensus that GM was wrong in making these moves.

I disagree. GM is making the right move.

Companies need to re-think how they spend money on marketing and advertising to make money in the showroom. Traditional advertising is becoming more expensive all the time and as the saying goes “I know I’m wasting half of the money I spend on advertising, only I don’t know which half.” The key here is that with advertising you pay to blast everyone that sees it with a single message – including people who just bought what you sell and those who will never buy what you sell just to hit the people who are considering a purchase of what you sell. As a result it is expensive and nearly impossible to place the right message with the right people at the time (and only those people). So I am not surprised at all that GM is re-evaluating its advertising spend, possibly investing more (not less) in the future in social media. Done well, you can be more impactful with pull marketing and social media than you can with push marketing and advertising.

So, personally it seems odd to me that so-called social media experts are in favor of a company spending money advertising on social networks. Wouldn’t it be smarter for them to advocate that GM spend money on build an interactive, engagement-driving social media campaign instead of spending money on advertising?

Something like the Chevy Game Time App?

Wait a minute, did the same company that doesn’t “get social media” launch an app built by hometown company – Detroit Labs – before Super Bowl 2012 that rocketed into the Top 10 free apps for the iPhone on Apple’s App Store (a top 10 that included Facebook and Instagram)?

“For all intents and purposes, all of the expectations that we had and that GM had were far exceeded… in a positive way!”

– Henry Balanon, Detroit Labs Co-Founder


First let’s be clear. Social networks and social media are two separate things, but people talk about them as is if they were one thing.

A social network is a place where people connect online and interact, whereas social media is content that is created to be shared. But, many so-called social media experts confuse the two, and confuse advertising with social media too. Advertising on a social network is not a social media strategy – it’s still advertising. Identifying the content that you should place on your Facebook page or other digital destination and creating a reason for people to tell others that they should come to that digital destination, well that’s a social media strategy.

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Now, I must disclose that I specialize in helping companies creating pull marketing strategies to drive an increase in inbound sales leads by researching the customer purchasing journey online and then helping them attract and engage customers, partners, or employees by placing the right content in the right places at the right time. Part of this is achieved by using my proprietary single content input, multiple content output methodology and yes, that sometimes includes using social media. But social media is a tool not a religion, and it needs to be used only when appropriate.

I think GM made the right call in ceasing to advertise on the Super Bowl and Facebook and here’s why:

  1. Super Bowl advertisements are expensive and for GM much of the cost is allocated against people who will probably NEVER buy a GM car
  2. Facebook advertising is not very prominent or engaging
  3. Their Chevy Game Time App experience should have given GM an idea that next year they can drive huge engagement during the Super Bowl (without advertising)

If GM is so clueless at social media, then why does the Facebook page for Chevrolet look so much better than the Facebook page for Ford or Toyota or Dodge. Honda is the only one I looked at amongst the car companies that had a more social feel at first glance, oh and Honda has the most likes of these companies too – go figure. But the engagement of people on Facebook around these brands is tiny in comparison to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Harley-Davidson – both in terms of the numbers of likes and the number of people talking about them.

So, yes GM still has things to learn about engaging on social media (and about building better products too), but then so does every company. Social media and pull marketing are two new tools in the toolbox for every CMO, brand manager, and product marketer, but as long as we all continue to instrument for learning, as marketers we will continue to get better at utilizing these new tools to attract, engage, and retain the people who will love our products and services as much as we do.

Keep innovating!

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Innovation or Invention? – Portable Personal Mobility Device

Innovation or Invention? - Portable Personal Mobility DeviceIn writing my article yesterday – Innovation or Invention? – Gyroscopically Stabilized Electric Motorcycle – I came across an interesting video from 2009 of an invention called the U3-X from the research labs at Honda.

While I found the Lit C-1 to be an interesting gadget but unlikely to be widely adopted given the other solutions already available at much better price to performance ratios to the problem it is trying to solve, I am a bit more optimistic about this intriguing design from Honda through a slightly different lens than they might examining its possibilities through.

(Oct 2009)

Here is a second video released along with an announcement of a new installation in France:

(Mar 2012)

Regular readers will know that I feel that innovation is all about:

  • Value Creation
  • Value Access
  • Value Translation

There is no doubt that Honda has created a lot of potential value here. The problem is that they’ve done a really poor job to date with Value Translation. Notice that in both video examples the users are small females. This introduces doubt unconsciously into the viewers. Will this work for a person who is large and/or tall?

Another point that I often highlight is that disruptive innovations require more than explanation, they require education. This is definitely a device that will require a fair amount of education to get people comfortable with the idea and start to see the need. Honda needs to do more education to help with that. They also need to better visualize where the greatest need for this device will be.

For me this is an amazing device because at 10kg (22 lbs) it is a truly portable personal mobility device (if you integrate a strap or two so that people can carry it on their back).

One hour of battery life seems like a big challenge though. But, not if people are using the device in place of crutches or for when they need a break from standing or walking, and don’t need to go far at any one time before plugging in.

I think this device has real potential, but I have no idea what it costs (and that could change my opinion). But for now it is clear it is a solution in search of a problem. So Honda needs to better identify what the problem is that the U3-X is solving before it will gain any traction, and then educate people so that they feel comfortable with it.

Too many companies invent things and feel the need to announce them too early before they find an application where their solution will be more valuable than all existing alternatives. Don’t make this mistake yourself.

But, what do you think? Invention or innovation?

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