The Corporate Storyteller

Expert tips on management communications and the power of storytelling

Monday, February 08, 2010


What's the Story at Toyota?

Communications professors and leadership experts are taking Toyota to task for mismanaging the story about problem with its braking systems. I agree that the company has taken a series of surprising missteps.

In a CBS news article (which can be read in full at, an auto industry expert described the reassurances offered by Toyota's CEO on Friday as the company's "last chance" to stop the damage from the safety crisis. Others have questioned whether the company can recover from the damage already done and retain its brand position as a symbol of top-quality products.

Clearly, Mr. Toyoda, grandson of the company's founder, waited far too long to address the problem. Ideally the time to act is before a problem becomes publicly known. Second best is to make an announcement as soon as the story hits the media, assuring owners and prospective customers that the company has made the issue its top priority.

What do you think the long-term damage to Toyota's reputation may be? Would you buy a Toyota right now? What will it take for you to be certain that their cars are dependable?

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