Car Talk

Experts Discuss Recall Implications

Recall announcements come as no surprise these days. But no recall in the past decade has been more widely publicized, debated and analyzed than the recall of 8 million Toyota vehicles that began late last year. Media scrutiny—now delving into why it happened—continues.

The company’s president, Akio Toyoda, has said quality control lapses in the face of rapid growth are to blame. With quality at the root of this rash of recalls, QP editors reached out to experts to collect insights into the lessons that can be learned from Toyota’s travails.

For the cover story, "Where to Start," QP assigned a different quality-related topic to five experts in product safety, quality and risk prevention. We asked them to share what they believe everyone can learn from the situation and how those lessons can be applied elsewhere. Topics included customer loyalty, product design, social responsibility and risk prevention. The final piece in the package asserts that the significance and impact of the Toyota recalls will propel quality back to "top priority" status among the world’s companies.

"Lessons Learned," this month’s Career Corner column, also focuses on the Toyota recalls and their impact on the quality profession. Henry Lindborg wrote: "In the Toyota story, there are warnings and opportunities for quality professionals. While many practitioners have applied the company’s lessons intelligently—with systems perspectives and full awareness of the perils of knowledge transfer—others have not."

Lindborg goes on to suggest how those in the quality profession might use what they’ve learned to their advantage.

Randall Goodden echoes some of that sentiment in the Keeping Current article, "Wake-up Call for All?" "It’s going to be a real learning opportunity for every corporation to pay attention to this [situation] and ask themselves, ‘What could possibly go wrong with our product that could get us into serious trouble and knock us out of business, and how do we prevent this from happening?’" Goodden said.

In this month’s Perspectives column ("TPS Troubles"), Steven Leggett asks whether it’s Toyota or its world-renowned Toyota Product System (TPS) that’s to blame for the problems.

"Is the system the problem? If not, what were the real problems at Toyota? If so, where did the TPS go wrong? And, perhaps most importantly, should organizations that employ a version of the TPS be concerned about their systems?" Leggett wrote.

ASQ offers many ways to continue this conversation: Check out Quality News Today headlines at www.asq.org; visit the Product Safety and Liability Prevention division page at www.asq.org/pslp; go to the discussion boards at www.asq.org/discussionBoards (case sensitive); or post a comment on any article’s page at www.qualityprogress.com.

Or, contact me the old-fashioned way with a letter to the editor: editor@asq.org.

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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