As it turns out, Europeans got a bit of a head start having their defective Toyotas fixed. Yoshimi Inaba, head of the company’s North American operations, admitted to a congressional committee last week that in response to complaints in Britain and Ireland, Toyota made production changes to fix the sticky-pedal problem in Europe that were largely complete by January, in other words mostly before the massive recall on our side of the Great Waters.

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You could hear the disappointment in my friend’s voice. “I had a lot of respect for Toyota,” she observed. More than most onlookers she knew the literature on its vaunted system of continuous process improvement. Here, she thought, most of us thought, was an enduring example of superior corporate performance. As the recall notices piled up I couldn’t help thinking, “How many more times are we going to fall for this excellent-company nonsense?”

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Certain acquaintances advising large companies report signs of revival among their clientele. Apparently having concluded that the worst is over, corporate types are lifting their heads above the parapet and beginning to feel that old itch to go out there and acquire somebody, or maybe launch a new product line or two. Like all right-thinking people I’m gladdened by this news. But a reading of the history of strategy also leaves me cautious, afflicted with an oh-no-here-we-probably-go-again suspicion that some of the same old mistakes will likely recur. Watch out for one or more of the following coming soon to a company near you:

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