Eiji Toyoda - Zombie Hunter

Hunting down zombies isn’t easy: but it can be managed efficiently if you have a clear purpose, great method, a sharp mind and the ability to involve other people in making it happen.  

Eiji Toyoda, who recently died aged 100, was a hunter of zombies and zombie philosophies, an independent-minded leader, capable both of doing Warren Bennis’s “right thing” whilst establishing the machinery within which managers can do things right.

Toyoda led the emergence of his family’s Toyota car company both as a global mass-market competitor and as a beacon of manufacturing efficiency. It was the income gained from selling loom innovation to a British company, Platt Bros. that funded the foundation of the Toyota Motor Company in 1937.  Following the war, the Toyota business was close to bankruptcy and suffering strikes, but a contract to build lorries for the US Military during the Korean War and a visit to Ford’s River Rouge mass-production facility plant at Dearborn, Michigan, led to a veteran Toyoda loom engineer, Taiichi Ohno, and Eiji Toyoda developing the “Toyota Way” (a combination of just-in-time stock control through a short supply chain, and Deming’s kaizen practice of ongoing improvement involving everyone) that became the Toyota Production System dedicated to eliminating virtually all forms of waste in terms of movement, materials, labour and time.

Essentially, Zombies are a form of waste who create further waste – they just want to consume other people, waste their time and lives, live for the moment and stay stuck in repetitive situations that dead people have created. Eiji Toyoda’s life wasn’t wasted, he made a difference by leading a process of removing the zombified, wasteful elements within conventional automotive manufacturing that his US and European peers were unable to even identify.

May he rest in peace, and may other zombie-hunters take up the cause. Good hunting!


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