The task of the die hard Toyota defenders just got tougher. The company just sold out sixty plus years of being able to assure job security at a level no one else could. To save one tenth of one percent of their global payroll they sent the message to all 317,000 of their employees that their long-standing pledge to keep them on the job no matter how tough things got was no longer part of the culture.
Toyota has announced the layoff of 350 employees at their Altona Australia plant. For this paltry savings they sold out a vital part of their culture. The hand of Fujio Cho is at work here. The leader of the gang of outsiders who have spent the last ten years 'Americanizing' Toyota with disastrous results thus far, Cho has pursued growth for growth's sake and is deeply imbued with the sort of thinking one can get at the likes of Wharton business school.
As I have pointed out in the past, Toyota's abandonment of their culture in no way detracts from the credibility of lean thinking. It is way past that. If Toyota were to be wildly successful in their pursuit of imitating GM and less like their heritage, that would repudiate lean, but the odds of that happening are almost nil.