9.3. Making a Long-Term Commitment to People

In the auto industry, long-term projects are riskier than short-term ones, which is why Toyota persistently invests to cultivate the organizational capability of developing people willing to take risks. The company's view that it is investing in a high-growth industry rather than a mature one changes how it perceives risk. The often-repeated phrase in the organization "if you're 60 percent sure, take action" symbolizes Toyota's tolerance toward risk and speaks volumes about the company's willingness to spend big and try new things in the pursuit of growth—even if the benefits are not immediately obvious or directly measurable. When Toyota de Puerto Rico first launched its emotion-inspired advertising campaign, it could not predict if it would work or if customers would become confused and stop buying. It was a gamble. "Don't play it safe, everybody plays it safe," said Mario Davíla, President of Toyota de Puerto Rico. "Take a risk, ... when you live on the edge you see more things."[] Employees will take risks if they feel confident, safe, and supported as they venture into uncharted territory. This requires a deep understanding of the Toyota Way, where learning stems from the successes as well as the failures experienced, and training plays a key part to get employees comfortable with this process.

Training and developing employees is a long-term investment, even lifelong, with the need for continuous upgrading of skills. Companies ...

Get Extreme Toyota: Radical Contradictions That Drive Success at the World's Best Manufacturer now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.