How would Toyota, one of the top car manufacturers, run a church?
While we will probably never have a definite answer, we can look atÂ five principles that have shaped their success in the automobile industry and learn how those same principles can be applied to create a better church. These five principles published by Business 2.0 are:
- Know the limits of your brand.
Toyota launched Scion because it recognized the limitations of its existing brands. The average Toyota driver is 50, and buyers of the company’s big Lexus sedans are even older. But Scion is attracting an entirely new cadre of customers with a median age of only 35, extending Toyota’s reach to the 63 million-strong “echo boomer” generation. “You have to be who you are,” says marketing consultant John Winsor, author of Beyond the Brand. “If you’re going to switch directions, you’d better start fresh.”
For Churches: You can’t be something you are not. Your church will not appeal to everyone. Know who you appeal to, and if you need to reach an additional audience, know what must be done in order to reach them. For instance, some churches have discovered that they can appeal to a broader scope of audiences by offering multiple venues each with its own unique worship style while delivering the same message via video feed.
- Making great products mean going the extra mile (or 53,000).
An old Toyota proverb goes something like this: To make a better product, get off your rear end and experience the marketplace. Charged with revamping the Sienna minivan for 2004, Toyota chief engineer Yuji Yokoya did just that. To improve on the previous Siennaâ€”small and underpoweredâ€”Yokoya embarked on a 53,000-mile North American minivan road trip that included five cross-continent treks, visits to every Mexican state and Canadian province, and loops around Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands.
For Churches: The church experience for the staffÂ is quite different than the church experience for the congregation and especially for first-time guests. Experience your church like someone would for the first time. Test drive it. Forget all of your familiarities with your church and its culture, and simply ask the “why” behind everything you experience.
- Study their mistakes – and your own.
Mining niches pioneered by others is a Toyota specialty. In 1989, Toyota introduced its high-end Lexus line, which within three years outsold BMW and Mercedes-Benz to become the No. 1 luxury import. The company’s family-oriented Camry sedan out-Taurused the Taurus in quality and function and is still a perennial chart topper.
For Churches: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Learn from other churches’ mistakes and successes. Learn what works and what doesn’t and build upon it. And of course, don’t stop there! Always learn from yourself.
- To export quality, first export company values.
Toyota has long manufactured cars outside Japan. But to do so for Lexus, the company had to export the brand’s culture of perfectionâ€”a level of expectation that surpasses even that of the exacting mother brand. On a Toyota, for instance, a 1-millimeter gap between hood and grille is acceptable; on a Lexus, the separation can’t be thicker than an eyelash.
For Churches: Communicating your church’s vision, mission, and values will increase the quality of your workers. It will also help you better reach your goals. Purpose unifies and directs.
- Act. Improve. Repeat.
Toyota president, Fujio Cho, shares the following wisdom:
– “Rather than dealing with problems neatly in our heads, we execute. If our solutions don’t work, we try something else.”
– “It’s a focus on results, where action is key.”
– “Good managers never say, ‘Do what you’re told,’ because that tells subordinates that it’s OK not to use their heads.”
– “Some people think that if they just implement our techniques, they can be as successful as we are. But those that try often fail. That’s because no mere process can turn a poor performer into a star. Rather, you have to address employees’ fundamental way of thinking. At Toyota we start with two questions: ‘Where are we wasting resources like time, people, or material?’ and ‘How can we be less wasteful?'”
For Churches: The best ideas are worthless without action. Learn to think while acting. And as you do, strive to become more efficient at it.
Those are the principles that have brought Toyota success. It’s nothing revolutionary. They simply need dedication and consistency to work.