7.2. Freedom to Voice Contrary Opinions

The organization should also be open to criticism and contradiction for the nerve system to function properly. This means everyone has to feel free to voice contrary opinions to top management and headquarters. At Toyota, employees do not blindly follow their bosses' orders, even those from top management. Group Manager at the Toyota Institute, Naomi Ishii, said there are times when top-down directives are treated with disdain:

When an idea comes down from the top, the folks at the bottom might say, "That can't be right; let's try this instead." This [reaction] is repeated over and over again until a final decision is made about what to do; then we adopt that plan for a year, and the process keeps bouncing around like this as it moves forward. []

Toyota's current President, Katsuaki Watanabe, recalled how he came up the ranks, always fighting with his bosses. "Pick a friendly fight," he said. "If you don't, you may end up with a compromise. If that happens, there is no speed, no progress." [] Watanabe understands how knowledge improves and expands with different perspectives:

We need a good team to make good products, and a good team is not a cozy team. We need constant feedback from customers to dealers, and from dealers to product development and manufacturing. Those providing feedback should complain, and the others should listen sincerely, and then we have a friendly fight. Combining the words "friendly" and "fight" may seem like ...

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