What We're Reading: Chief Culture Officer, Toyota Crisis Exposes Internal Feud, Why Sports Cars Could Cost More

By Michelle Krebs April 16, 2010

The staff at Edmunds is a diverse group with hundreds of different perspectives on the auto industry and the world at large.  Here's a look at what we're reading and thinking about this week...

 

Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation by Grant McCracken

"Levi Strauss, the jeans and apparel maker, misses hip-hop. The penalty: $1 billion. Quaker pays too much for Snapple. The penalty: $1.4 billion. Facebook claims 7 billion photos as its own. Embarrassment and recantation follow. These corporations, like most, were bad at reading culture, bad at staying in touch with culture, bad at working with culture. And it cost them dearly."

Edmunds staffer says:  Chief Culture Officer, in the narrow sense, argues for a C-level executive that is completely immersed in, and in tune with, the ambient culture.  The idea being that every aspect of a company - marketing, product, purpose - depend on a keen understanding of that culture.  More broadly, the book calls for a revolution in the way companies approach their customers, specifically to invest, in very specific ways, to understand them and to learn to empathize with them and their challenges.  The concrete examples provide for engaging reading and serve as a guide to adopting best practices in any organizational context. -- Seth Berkowitz, Chief Operating Officer

 

Read the full article: Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation

 

Technology

Please do not change your password by Mark Pothier (The Boston Globe)

"You will need a computer password today, maybe a half dozen or more -- those secret sign-ins that serve as sentries for everything from Amazon  shopping carts to work files to online bank accounts. Just when you have them all sorted out, along comes another "urgent" directive from the bank or IT department -- time to reset those codes, for safety's sake. And the latest lineup of log-ins you've concocted won't last for long, either. Some might temporarily stay in your head, others are jotted on scraps of paper and stuffed in a wallet. A few might be taped to your computer monitor in plain view (or are those are from last year's batch? Who can remember?).

Now, a study has concluded what lots of us have long suspected: Many of these irritating security measures are a waste of time."

Edmunds staffer says: Aha! We've suspected it all along, and now we're justified - changing passwords and all those ridiculous password restrictions are a waste of time - and not really adding any real security. The results of this password-security study, from Microsoft itself, are enlightening. --Bill Visnic, Sr. Editor, AutoObserver

OEMs

Inside Toyota, Executives Trade Blame Over Debacle by Norihiko Shirouzu (The Wall Street Journal)

"Mr. (Akio) Toyoda's supporters blame the slippage in relative quality rankings--as well as the sharp rise in recalls--on the company's previous non-family managers. It takes two to three years to develop a new car, so the models experiencing problems were developed before Akio Toyoda took the helm last June.

 The nonfamily executives acknowledge they made some mistakes. One says a large number of inexperienced contract engineers hired from outside agencies--an effort to save money as they tried to boost engineering capacity--led to at least some of the increase in quality glitches.

 But the non-family managers blame Mr. Toyoda's management style--both external and internal--as much as anything for letting the defects turn from a fixable problem into a full crisis."

Edmunds staffer says:  Seldom do we get such an intimate peek at what's going on inside any corporation, much less secretive Toyota. And as it turns out Japan's Toyoda clan and the non-family Toyota executives feud just like America's Hatfields and McCoys." -- Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst and Editor at Large

Why Sports Cars Could Cost More by Joseph B. White (The Wall Street Journal)

"If you like the new 12-cylinder Aston Martin DB9--or the Porsche 911--and hard work and good fortune have put you in position to buy such a car, you should consider acting on the impulse. In six years, these beauties could be harder to find or more expensive to acquire. Or they could be quite different cars.

Blame it on the Obama administration's strict new fuel-economy and emissions standards, which were formally adopted April 1. By the 2016 model year, the vehicles auto makers sell in the U.S. market will have to have a fleet average of 35.5 miles per gallon--up from the 2009 model year's 26.4 mpg."

Edmunds staffer says: There are enough factors at play (and loopholes in the rules) that most companies should do fine with the new CAFE rules. But the most interesting factor is the likelihood/need for partnerships among smaller and independent makers such as Jaguar and Aston Martin, since they have no mass-production partners. It seems we can't escape the "five-to-eight major global automakers" mantra that keeps being repeated. -- Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief

 

What are you reading?  Tell us at reading@edmunds.com. Include the article link and a note about why you feel it's a good read. We may publish your commentary in next week's column.

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LEAVE A COMMENT

cvanlane says: 4:21 PM, 04.17.10

Ah, yes...those much ballyhooed fuel-economy and emissions standards. They are the prime suspect in the ongoing demise of the late, great American V8...but that's not all they're killing. It's only a matter of time before we see the rot spreading to small-volume, high-end auto manufacturers such as Aston Martin. Meanwhile, the European Union continues with its idiotic and pointless war on carbon, which is a quagmire if ever there was one. All this, and we're supposed to believe it will save the planet? I doubt it.

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