Honda considers Toyota to be a formidable competitor; for a good reason. What’s in this for you?
The Surprising Power of Focusing on the Process Instead of the Outcome.
I once met a long-time employee at Honda of America who mentioned that Honda’s most formidable competitor is Toyota.
He also said that it’s due to the WAY they make their cars rather than WHAT they make as much.
The most recent financial statements show that Toyota is a more profitable car company than Honda. In the fiscal year 2020, Toyota reported a net profit of 2.2 trillion yen (approximately USD 20.3 billion), while Honda reported a net profit of 456.4 billion yen (approximately USD 4.2 billion).
Make no mistake, Honda is a brilliant company and makes fantastic products. I drive a Honda and am a total loyalist.
Process Over Outcome: How Changing Your Perspective Can Transform Your Work
The Toyota story provides a powerful example of how focusing on the process can lead to incredible results. In the 1950s, Toyota faced significant challenges in competing with more established car manufacturers. However, the company’s leadership focused on improving the manufacturing process rather than simply trying to produce more and different cars.
I understand that by focusing on the PROCESS rather than the OUTCOME, Toyota developed a production system emphasizing continuous improvement, waste reduction, and a focus on quality at every stage of the manufacturing process. This approach, known as the Toyota Production System, allowed Toyota to produce cars more efficiently, which are the most reliable and long-lasting than their competitors.
This story highlights:
Why Successful People Love the Process More Than the Result.
The lessons of Toyota’s success can be applied to any industry or profession.
When workers focus on the process rather than the end goal, they can develop repeatable systems that consistently produce high-quality work. This can lead to increased efficiency, productivity, and profitability over time. Furthermore, by focusing on the process, workers can identify areas for improvement and make changes that lead to better outcomes.
Defining processes, templates, checklists, and action stacks are ways to move yourself to a higher level gradually. Clarifying how you will achieve the outcome enables more straightforward and increased quality delegation/outsourcing.
In addition to the practical benefits of focusing on the process, there are also psychological benefits. When workers can love the process of their work, they are more likely to find meaning and purpose in what they do. This can increase job satisfaction and greater fulfillment, positively impacting their overall well-being.
It is important to note that focusing on the process does not mean that workers should neglect their goals altogether. Instead, they should view their goals as a natural outcome of their commitment to the process. By focusing on the process, workers can create conditions that will enable them to achieve their goals sustainably and meaningfully.
Some Examples of remarkable consistent, repeated successes:
Music: When musicians focus on practicing and refining their skills, they can produce higher-quality performances and recordings. For example, the late jazz pianist Bill Evans was known for his meticulous approach to practicing, which involved breaking down complex pieces into small, manageable parts and working on them until they were perfect. This focus on the process allowed him to develop a unique style and produce some of the most influential jazz recordings ever.
Sports: In sports, athletes who focus on the process of training and preparation are often the most successful. For example, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps is known for his intense training regimen involving swimming up to 80,000 meters per week. By focusing on training and refining his technique, Phelps won a record 23 gold medals and established himself as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Business: In business, companies that focus on the process of developing high-quality products and services are often the most successful. For example, Apple is known for its obsessive focus on design and user experience, which has helped it create some of the world’s most popular and innovative products. By focusing on designing and refining its products, Apple has built a loyal customer base and maintained its position as a market leader.
Writing: In writing, authors who focus on writing and revising their work can often produce higher-quality books and stories. For example, the novelist Margaret Atwood has said she writes many drafts of her work, constantly changing each sentence multiple times until it is correct. By focusing on refining her writing, Atwood has produced some of the most famous and influential books of the last few decades.
To draw a parallel from the Bhagwad Gita
In Chapter 2, Verse 47, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna:
Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani
This verse means,
You have the right to work but never to the fruit of work.
You should never engage in action for reward, nor should you long for inaction.”
This verse emphasizes the importance of performing one’s duties without attachment to the outcome or result. It suggests that one should focus on doing the job right, performing actions to the best of their ability, and leaving the product to the will of God or the universe. The verse teaches that one should not be attached to the fruits or results of their actions, whether success or failure and instead remain detached and selfless in their work. By doing this, one can achieve inner peace, contentment, and freedom from the cycle of birth and death.
The main takeaway for the spirited worker from the above stories is how people, teams, and companies that focused on the process and let the outcomes happen were able CONSISTENTLY to REPEAT their success, getting better each time.