Kaizen, or continuous improvement, underpins Toyotas success and is deep-rooted in the psyche of its work force. But as Toyota faces its first operating loss in 70 years, employees are being asked to sacrifice more for the good of the company. Welcome to the age of hyper-kaizen. Under this new initiative, seemingly insignificant financial gains are now considered worth pursuing even if they cause inconvenience.
Previously, a Toyota executive would automatically choose the bullet train for a two-hour trip to Tokyo. Not anymore.
We calculated three bullet train tickets versus one vehicle with three persons, said Toyotas Takeaki Kato of his journey to the Japanese capital to talk to reporters about the revamped Lexus RX premium SUV.
Previously, at 20,000 yen (about 170) versus 17,000 yen we would think its almost the same, he said, adding that they usually opted for what was convenient, even if it cost more.
But in this case, a 3,000 yen difference is very big, so there is no choice. We will take this, cost-wise.
Even, it seems, if it means doubling the journey time and facing the nightmare of Tokyos interminable gridlock. Hard times indeed.