Ever since the Toyota acceleration "scandal" hit the media, I've wanted to comment on it. Why? Because I see a parallel with the Legion of Christ in the wake of the Fr. Maciel scandal. This morning, I read the following. It seems to me that Wharton management professor Larry Hrebiniak's comment provides food for thought about the Legionary debacle!
Professor Hrebiniak says "Toyota has not been aggressive enough in coming forward to calm consumers' fears. "This is a very serious issue, and they know it is going to hurt them and their quality image so they are trying to downplay it." When a business makes a mistake, he notes, it is best to be upfront because delays and uncertainty only make matters worse in the long run. He cites the famous case of Johnson & Johnson, which acted swiftly to remove all Tylenol products from store shelves following the deadly 1982 tampering case. The company's strong response restored goodwill toward Johnson & Johnson and helped it retain market share. In the case of Tylenol, he adds, the company had no time to plan a strategy to meet the problem.
"What bothers me most is that Toyota had clues there were quality problems -- not only general quality problems, but that there was an accelerator problem," he says, adding that the company should have been able to take that information early on and develop a proactive approach, rather than reacting to regulators and bad press, according to Hrebiniak."
Substitute "Legion of Christ" for "Toyota." That's my point.