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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