Toyota: A PR Catastrophe Made Worse
The In the News story at right is a stunning admission by the president of Toyota—a dozen words that describe his giant corporation being totally out of control:
Some people just got too big-headed and focused too excessively on profit.
Who are “some people"?
Let’s call them a cabal, which the OneLook Dictionary defines as “a clique (often secret) that seeks power, usually through intrigue.”
Since 1999, this cabal has been responsible for a reported:
- 2,262 instances of unintended acceleration
- 815 crashes
- 52 deaths.
“We did realize that it was not good that pedals were not returning to their proper positions,” said Toyota’s quality control chief, Shinichi Sasaki, “but we took some time to consider whether we needed to take market action.”
Parse that. “We did realize ... but we took some time ..."
The message here to all businesspeople—from lone wolves to the CEOs of giant corporations:
For Pete’s sake, if you're CEO of anything, don't hide behind the words “we,” “us” and “our.” Don’t use them in copy. Don’t use them in speeches.
“We,” “us” and “our” are code for, “It wasn’t my decision alone, so I don’t have to take responsibility.”
Or, in the words of the late Freddie Prinze Sr., "Eez not mai yob."
When the Philippines fell to the invading Japanese armies in 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur didn't say something half-baked and corporate such as, “We shall return,” or “America shall return”—meaning if the Japanese won the war, it wasn’t his fault.
He electrified the world with three iconic words:
“I shall return.”
A Decade of Carnage
After 10 years of deceit and denial, Toyota management was finally forced to bite the 6.5x50mm Arisaka bullet and level with the world about its massive customer betrayal. The record was horrifying: As of Feb. 3, 2010, the 3.8 million models recalled included: