iPod of the car industry

Few years ago, when I saw iPod for the first time, like many, I was stunned for its design, simplicity and quality. I had at least 5-6 different cell phones in my life and each of the cell phone manual was around 150 pages and when I got the iPod few years ago, the manual for that iPod was 2 pages. When I brought up this to my close friends during my Sunday chat sessions, some of them argued with me that iPod  and cell phone functionalities are different and hence the significance in the manual size. Those friends were speech less when Apple came up with iPhone.

I was wondering, why Sony did not come up with something similar like iPod. They dominate this market for so long and why they were not the first one to come up with something similar to iPod.

After some study, as I understand, most of the Japanese companies use the Japanese management style in all strategic and operational management. The key approach, as I understand, Japanese management style is more on consensus building. If there are 5 members in a team, all of them HAS to agree on the direction, approach, next steps before an action is taken. It makes a fundamental assumptions that all the 5 members are subject matter expert and kind of have an idea of the future prediction through approximation.

Obviously this management style is to limit the agility, innovation and time consuming. Statistically, this style proven to produce better quality products. In other hand, quick to market approach management style is proven to be more innovative but lack quality.

In Walter Chrysler biography, Chrysler stated one of main reason for his success and innovation was: make quick decision ,observe the results and adapt instead of taking long time to make a decision and realize it was not the right decision. Historically Chrysler company proven to produce most innovative car product in the car industry. Walter Chrysler management style is other spectrum of Japanese management style.

It appears, based on the recent JD power survey and consumer reports, American cars quality have been improving a lot but long way to go. They are on the right track. Particularly, Ford has been producing high quality product with best fuel mileage in last year. Like Ford, if the other American car companies figure out a way to drastically improve the quality of their product AND keep the innovation which has been in their roots they are going to produce the iPod of the car industry.

I wonder, the Japanese car companies are making any adjustment to their management style to be more innovative to achieve what Sony failed to do so.

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