The news that Toyota is taking North American product development authority from Japanese bosses and putting it in the hands of North American executives is the culmination of nearly two years of soul searching by Japan's largest automaker.
The formerly very centralized company says vehicles unique to the North American market no longer will require painstaking and frustrating sign-offs from Japan at each step in the development process. This won't be an easy cultural change.
The operational change recognizes that the central flaw in Toyota's rise to global supremacy -- and subsequent slip in recent years -- was that the company was built on island insularity.
In the new system, when locals spot trouble, they will be empowered to do something about it. Plus, it's supposed to give locals a bigger voice in tailoring cars to regional needs.
The proof will be in the product and process. With unintended acceleration, an insular organization turned a small problem into a big one. This change must have a big impact.