On preparing for a product launch

Machinery must be chosen carefully. To avoid ending up with wrong machines and wasting Y30.000 ($7.500) to Y50.000 ($12.500), we went to America to examine them first.

Once this expensive equipment is acquired, we have to learn to use it correctly. So, we study tool use because regardless of how good a machine is, we cannot produce large quantities accurately without proper tools. We need tools indented for mass production – and their design and production can easily take three to four years. This is what we have been doing since Toyota first bought the equipment three years ago.

After buying millions of yen worth of machinery, hundreds of people worked hard for three years without putting a single car on the market. Stockholders began to worry and wonder when cars would start rolling out. Those in charge also felt that somehow we should produce one or two cars just to show we were really doing something.

However, a car made this way would not be of the highest quality. This point is difficult for managers and capital investors to understand. If we hadn’t had managers with enough courage to make a bold commitment to car manufacturing, we would not have found investors to trust the engineers and leave everything to them.
– Genealogy of the Toyota Production System, Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production (Taiichi Ohno)