SBD/Issue 122/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Toyota's Consensus Management Style Out Of Step With F1

Yamashina Taking Team-Approach
Managment Style To Toyota's F1 Operation
Toyota, which has "never won a race or ended a season" in better than fourth place since joining F1 in '02, now is "pinning its hopes on fully implementing its vaunted consensus-management style, which is out of step with the rest of the world of grand-prix racing, to breathe life into its half-billion-dollar-a-year F1 team," according to John Murphy of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Toyota adopted the "traditional F1 management style when it joined the circuit six years ago," but when Toyota team Principal Tadashi Yamashina took over in '07, he "switched to the system he knew best." Yamashina began teaching the "key to winning can be found in the Toyota way." Yamashina: "We encourage teamwork and we always have our minds set on kaizen." Kaizen in Japanese means "continuous improvement." However, Murphy notes many racing analysts "question whether [Toyota] is suited to the competitive world of F1," where historically the "most successful teams have been led by strong personalities who function like field generals in battle, calling all the shots not only during the race but also during the design phase." But Toyota execs said that, performance aside, the company's "exposure in [F1] reaps many benefits." Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said that the company's motorsports activities "stimulate excitement among car buyers, especially the younger generation." Murphy writes as a marketing tool, there are "few sports that give sponsors wider global exposure than F1." Coventry Univ. Business School professor of sports business strategy and marketing Simon Chadwick said that while F1 "enhances brand image and name recognition, there is no evidence that poor performances have a negative impact on a sponsor" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/14).

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