David (Toyota) vs. Goliath (Big 3)

By Ron Pereira Updated on May 16th, 2017

Guy Kawasaki had an interesting post today in reference to the types of stories people like to talk about.  There were nine types discussed… but one immediately caught my eye.

David vs. Goliath. In the story of David and Goliath, the young Hebrew David took on the Philistine giant Goliath and beat him. It is the way Southwest Airlines conquered the big carriers, the way the once unknown Japanese car manufacturers took on Detroit, and the way social media is taking on the media giants. Sharing stories about how a small organization is taking on a big company is great business sport. Rooting for the underdog grabs our emotions, creates meaning, and invokes passion. We like to listen to the little guy talk about how he’s going to win and why the world—or the industry—will be a better place for it.

I am assuming one of the Japanese car manufacturers referenced is Toyota.   I have never thought of Toyota as a type of David.  I mean they are Toyota!  But when I stop to think of their history and how they rose from near death the parallel’s to the young David are strong.

The Irony

The irony of the situation is what happened with David after defeating Goliath.  In his older years David had some, well… let’s call them issues with the beautiful Bathsheba.  These issues included the sins of adultery and even murder.  Bad stuff indeed.

David, for those that don’t know how the story ends, did go on to repent and live his life in a contrite manner but the effects of his sins would never escape him.

Who is Toyota’s Bathsheba?

No one can argue that Toyota has slain the mighty Detroit 3.  Well, some may attempt to make the argument but they are in deep denial and should seek mental assistance in my humble opinion.

In this light, Toyota may be likened to the older David who did some terrible things and paid dearly.  While Toyota’s sins may not be adultery or murder (at least I sure hope not!) there could be other sins creep in like building too many plants, getting complacent with quality, and losing focus on the simple things that has helped them get to where they are today.

The Rest of the Story

Only time will tell how Toyota deals with its success.  I, for one, hope they continue to prosper.  But it’s never easy being on top since everyone is gunning for you and eventually some new up and coming company will become the new David.  And when this happens many will be all too happy to watch the mighty goliath fall.

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