The concept of innovation is quite literally the driving force behind Toyota Motors Corporation. Toyota’s history, foundation, guiding principles, and practices are guided by the philosophy of creating innovative ideas and design concepts.
As one of the top ten profitable companies in the world, Toyota is achieving market leadership in the automobile industry, delivering some of the best new innovations the world has ever seen. Toyota is the first to introduce the breakthrough Hybrid car technology, capturing energy otherwise lost by coasting or braking to recharge the battery. Introduced in 1997, the innovation of the Prius design and the hybrid technology combined with a conventionally powered gas engine has lead the Prius to beat all three leading American car company sales the first quarter 2007, including its Japanese counterpart, Honda. This is the first time a foreign automobile company has done so.
SO HOW DO THEY DO IT?
In 1898, Sakichi Toyoda founded Japan’s first steam-powered loom, a handloom company. From its humble start Toyota Motors Corporation began as Toyota Automatic Loom Works. During the early 1900’s the company looms were considered the “highest quality, lowest cost, and easiest to use,” Matthew E. May, a senior University of Toyota advisor writes in his book “The Elegant Solution: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation”. The term “Elegant Solution” is about “finding the aha solution to a problem with the greatest parsimony of effort and expense.”
Striving for creativity, simplicity, intelligence, subtlety, economy, and quality, to achieve elegant solutions, Toyota’s Innovation Factory was developed with these objectives in mind. This is where over 2,500 new ideas are implemented every day. Steering Toyota’s business model is the Guiding Principles for Driving Innovation and the staff at the Innovation Factory. Everyday Toyota strives to discover ways to do something better than it's ever been done before.
They look to ingenuity to smooth the progress of new ideas to provide the cleverness, resourcefulness, initiative, originality, inventiveness, creativity, and skill, to achieve innovation. They coin it “The Art of Ingenuity.” Toyota’s team searches for optimal solutions – solutions that yield ‘low-cost, low-risk, high-impact breakthrough ideas,’ as they have for over a century.
Innovation happens at Toyota through the ‘systematic pursuit of perfection at every level, every department, in everything Toyota does.’2 Perfection equates to excellence, precision, and flawlessness at Toyota. The “Pursuit of Perfection” equates to the excellence, precision, and flawlessness Toyota pursues. This chase for perfection creates better processes, products and services for tomorrow and today. Making many small steps to create sustainable innovation.
The “Rhythm of Fit” suggests that great innovation has to ‘fit’ – fit the company, the current time, and the system. Toyota believes that great innovations shape and change the attitudes and behaviors of people, the way we think, we work, and the way we live.”2 So the Rhythm of Fit fits the current time and environment.
An example of this ‘fit’ is the Toyota Prius, a hybrid car that provides plenty of room in the inside, good performance; safety features, and has great gas mileage. Toyota envisioned the changing environment of higher gas costs and pollution when developing the car, making it economical to drive, environmentally friendly (or green innovation), and without sacrificing the need for roominess, safety and performance. Today the Prius is the number one Hybrid car in America.
Research shows that just ten years ago Toyota Motor sales in the US was suffering because of a backward IT infrastructure. The US distributor of cars and trucks built by Toyota Motor Corp. found itself managed with...