There's a Biblical saying that goes, "Those who can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in big things." For all the hand-wringing about the rise of Japanese automakers and the concurrent fall from grace for the Not-So-Big Detroit Three, there are a lot of "little things" that Toyota, Honda and company seem to be doing right, all of the time. Ford, meanwhile, keeps getting it wrong.
Take a look at this article, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. This is what's known as a "little" story even in the hometown Cleveland paper, this article was buried on page 3 of the business section. And yet, check out the middle paragraphs in this story, and you'll learn all you need to about Ford's approach to supply chain collaboration:
"wo of the three principal automotive customers for products, Honda and Toyota, agreed to contribute to a fund for the displaced workers, providing them their vacation and some severance pay in an amount to be determined. The third and biggest customer, Ford, declined to contribute to the fund.... Ford told us they had decided not to help the workers, that they won't contribute.'"
Why would two foreign-based companies agree to help workers at a relatively small U.S.-based supplier, while one of the best-known U.S. companies thumbs its nose at those same workers? In Jeffrey Liker's book, The Toyota Way, one of the key principles that Toyota follows day in and day out is: Respect Your Extended Network of Partners and Suppliers by Challenging Them and Helping Them Improve. Based on the Excello example, the Ford Way apparently is: Sorry, can't help you.