Can Toyota Save Chrysler?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on September 7, 2007

The hiring of Jim Press from Toyota by Chrysler’s private equity owner Cerberus Capital Management throws important new managerial talent into the job of turning around the flagging Detroit auto-maker but it also adds to its cultural problems. We now have several different managers with very distinct corporate cultures working together to resurrect Chrysler and it isn’t clear if it’s going to work.

You have Tom LaSorda, from the old Chrysler culture (as well as advisor Tom Gale who was design guru at Chrysler for years), Press from the Toyota culture and sitting on top of them Bob Nardelli from Home Depot and the old GE-Six Sigma culture.

Press, who was the only American on the Toyota board, is used to the Toyota Way—employee involvement, constant improvement, and customer focus (think hybrid Prius). Nardelli’s record at Home Depot was employee alienation, retail customer rejection and displacing the existing business model with an entirely new one (HD Supply was just sold and Home Depot is returning to its traditional retail customer focus).

Let’s see how all this works out and who survives as top managers. I hope the Cerberus folks know what dish they’re cooking.

 

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