Toyota has finally decided to "go places" from a management point of view. Last month they appointed their first foreign vice president in the company’s long history, a Frenchman, Didier Leroy. The first female senior manager was also appointed, as well as its first African American top executive. Clearly the CEO wants to shake up the stodgy corporate culture and ensure that more diverse voices are included in the problem solving and strategy formulation processes of the company. After all, 83% of Toyota vehicles are sold outside Japan and most of its vehicles are made overseas. It is unbelievable that an international company such as Toyota has taken so long to harness the power of diversity, to some degree at least, to enhance its capacity to create and sell better products.
Last year, Toyota’s competitor, Honda appointed its first female to its board, which is also a step in a positive direction. Japanese companies have been, and many continue to be, too hidebound, and many Korean and other international competitors are giving them a run for their money or even leaving them in the dust. Therefore, the leadership work of busting boundaries is critical work, particularly if you want to stimulate the creative juices and respond with speed to shifting markets, new competitors, and changing customer preferences. It is also essential if you want to go from being just a Japanese (or national) company that operates internationally to being a genuine global company. "Let's go places" Toyota, and keep on going!