It's interesting to observe how an apparent key success factor - the setup of chief engineers ("shusas") driving their products through their entire life cycle - of what made Toyota so successful over decades seems to have had a significant negative involvement in the company's recent problems:
How Toyota is being tested by its biggest crisis yet. - Jul. 12, 2010:
"The shusas are emblematic of the idiosyncratic management that served Toyota immensely well when it was trying to conquer the world with superior vehicles -- today Toyota ranks fifth on the Fortune Global 500, with revenues of $204.1 billion -- but that failed it spectacularly when the company was confronted with a storm of complaints about safety. As the company grew, its Japanese leaders never relinquished the iron grip they exercised over the company's operations all over the world and continued to make all important decisions in Japan. Instead of globalizing, Toyota colonized."
Just hope that Toyota takes the right lessons out of this - both for the benefit of the company, but particularly also as an industry leader of lean production system.