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Thursday, June 03, 2004 2:23 PM
Shifting Gears on Creativity
Kevin Salwen on Creativity

Back in the old days, the maxim went that Americans created the cool products and the Japanese made them perfect through copying. Japanese creativity was pooh-poohed as being 2nd rate (with the possible exception of Sony, I hasten to add). This was especially true in the auto industry, where Toyota, Mazda and Honda made efficient but deadly boring vehicles (exhibits A and B: the Accord and Camry).

Oh how times have changed. These days, if you're not paying attention to what's happening at Toyota, you're not in tune with what's coming next. The company's Prius hybrid was years ahead of anything U.S. makers created. (Ford is just now coming out with its Escape Hybrid SUV.) And the latest news is that Toyota is hard at work in its Japanese labs building additional safety into its cars -- in this case fascinating efforts to make vehicle hoods softer to save the lives of pedestrians and to keep cars in lanes better.

Isn't it interesting that the 'copier' has turned innovator?


Joan - 6/8/2004 10:11:02 PM
Copy if you can. I remember reading, about 20 years ago, about AMERICAN automakers who wanted to learn from Acura. The story went that Acura's leadership turned over to their American counterparts boxes and boxes of design specifications, TQM (Total Quality Management remember that?) plans, supplier agreements, and just about everything. When asked why they willingly turned over so much information to the competition, Acura replied, 'Our competitive advantage is not in those documents. It's in how we execute what's in those documents.' Copying is not as easy as it looks.
Matt - 6/5/2004 1:27:58 AM
Seems to be a common way to learn just about anything. Master the basics by learning from the best, then innovate. Writing, physics, business, graphic design -- works anywhere.


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