BETTER AND BETTER
It's always, "Give me the data, give me the data. — Team member at the Toyota of America plant
The cover copy of a Fortune magazine reads: "Toyota: Why It Keeps Getting Better and Better and Better" (Taylor 1990). The Toyota of America plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, had recently received several accolades, including one from J. D. Power, the auto industry analyst, that billed it the best auto plant in America. Improvement is a way of life at Toyota. It is taken for granted that no job is ever truly done, no process ever perfected. Employees do not find this burdensome or oppressive, however. It is not as if they were being hounded constantly about not doing a good enough job. If this were the case, the emphasis on constant improvement would be doomed. On the contrary, we discovered that employees thrive on the challenge of continuous analysis of one's work for ways it can be done better, faster, more efficiently, less expensively.
Barbara MacDaniel, Toyota's amiable public relations director, likes to say that Toyota has "3,500 secrets of success"; they are the 3,500 "team members" who constitute Toyota's work force. The formal presentation for visitors begins with a film showing men and women running onto the shop floor, hardhats atop their smiling heads; these clips are alternated with those of football players taking the field. It is a little corny, but the truth behind it — the palpable joy these people have in their work and for doing it in teams — cannot be denied.
But this very aspect of Toyota's success, its emphasis on teamwork, may be what initially repels many Americans. A good friend of ours who works in a General Motors plant makes remarks that are not un