Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recent Toyota Recalls remind me of Fight Club

The recent recalls from Toyota reminded me of the movie "Fight Club".  In the movie, an unnamed narrator works as a Product Recall Specialist for an unnamed car company. He is responsible for determining if product recalls of defective models meet cost-benefit analysis. The stress of his job combined with his frequent business trips leads to perpetual jet lag.

It's scary to think that auto manufacturers decide on whether to recall a defective model depending on the cost-benefit analysis conducted by these specialists.  To the corporation, people are only numbers on a spreadsheet, and not individual, irreplaceable human beings. Drawing a parallel to what has happened recently with Toyota, we can easily see that this isn't just a figment of a fictional author's imagination, but reality.  Even Toyota, who prides themselves on reliability and safety, take shortcuts in the name of expansion and cost savings.

What most executives forget about these short term, quarter to quarter reporting, let us increase our profit and margins by whatever it takes, environment is that things catch up.  Fortunate for them, we humans have a very short attention span, and I'm sure most people will forget about this even soon enough and be worrying about what Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan wears next.


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