Akio Toyoda appears to have brought with him the art of plain speaking to the office of company president, a position he's occupied at Toyota since June. Like most every other automaker these days, Toyota has been struggling, having seen its sales targets slip from 10 million units to a 2009 estimate of 7.3 million. But to listen to Toyoda is to understand that the company's mounting troubles can't be blamed solely on the state of the global economy, as he is using the stark language of How the Mighty Fall, a business book by author Jim Collins, to describe the company's state.

According to Automotive News, Toyoda says his company is "grasping for salvation," which is stage four of five outlined in Collins' book, with Toyota having already experienced Stage One, "Hubris Born of Success;" Stage Two, "Undisciplined Pursuit of More;" and Stage Three, "Denial of risk and peril." What's Stage Five? "Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death." Yikers.

We think Toyota is a long way from Stage Five, but with everything from a recent massive recall to currency fluctuations and eroding quality perceptions among the masses – to say nothing of mounting competition from Korean, American and European automakers – Toyoda appears to understand that his company has a lot to address in both the near- and long-term, and he's using unsubtle language in his early days in office to make sure the rest of the company knows it, too.


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[Source: Automotive News - sub. req.]