爱思英语编者按:目前丰田面对的问题,对丰田来说是一场公共关系的噩梦,因为长久以来,丰田品牌一直是品质和可靠性的代名词。而现在却是恶名狼藉。


In Japan there is a proverb, 'If it stinks, put a lid on it.' Alas, this seems to have been Toyota's approach to its burgeoning safety crisis, initially denying, minimizing and mitigating the problems involving brakes that don't brake and accelerators that have a mind of their own. President Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder, was MIA for two weeks and the company has appeared less than forthcoming about critical safety issues, risking the trust of its customers world-wide.
日本有句谚语:“要是闻着发臭,那就盖上盖子。”(眼不见为净。)丰田汽车公司似乎就在以这种方式处理其日益凸现的汽车安全问题。对于不能刹车的刹车以及颇有“主见”的油门,丰田起初是否认,然后想大事化小,后来又百般推托。公司总裁丰田章男是丰田创始人的孙子,在危机发生的头两周成了失踪人员,公司对重大汽车安全问题的反应似乎不再那么积极,有负全球消费者对其的信任。
  
This has been a public-relations nightmare for Toyota, as its brand name has been synonymous with quality and reliability. Crisis management does not get any more woeful than this and the cost of this bungling so far-the initial $2 billion recall and the loss of 17% of share value since Jan. 21, when the gas-pedal recall was announced-is only a down payment on the final tally. The recall will surely expand, including cars produced in Japan. Lawsuits are being filed and an expensive settlement looms. And then there are the idle factories and empty showrooms to account for.
对丰田来说,这是一场公共关系的噩梦,因为长久以来,丰田品牌一直是品质和可靠性的代名词。再也没有比这更糟糕的危机管理了,到目前为止,丰田已为此付出20亿美元的召回费用,公司股价自2010年1月21日(当天丰田宣布因油门踏板问题实施召回)以来下跌17%,而这些仅是丰田最后要承担的巨额损失的首付款而已。召回规模肯定会扩大,将包括在日本生产的汽车;丰田已面临多起法律诉讼,未来可能要付出高昂代价才能解决;而闲置的工厂和空荡荡的汽车专卖店展示区同样意味着巨大的经济损失。更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/
  
It is not surprising that Toyota's response has been dilatory and inept, because crisis management in Japan is grossly undeveloped. Over the past two decades, I cannot think of one instance where a Japanese company has done a good job managing a crisis. The pattern is all too familiar, typically involving slow initial response, minimizing the problem, foot dragging on the product recall, poor communication with the public about the problem and too little compassion and concern for consumers adversely affected by the product. Whether it's exploding televisions, fire-prone appliances, tainted milk or false labeling, in case after case companies have shortchanged their customers by shirking responsibility until the accumulated evidence forces belated disclosure and recognition of culpability. The costs of such negligence are low in Japan where compensation for product liability claims is mostly derisory or non-existent.
丰田的反应如此迟钝笨拙倒也不足为奇,因为在日本,危机管理在很大程度上还未发展起来。过去二十年来,我根本想不出来有哪家日本企业在危机管理上做得不错。每家公司的反应都差不多,一开始反应迟钝,想大事化小,小事化了,在产品召回上拖拖拉拉,就所存在问题与公众的沟通少得可怜,对因产品问题而遭受影响的消费者漠不关心。无论是爆炸的电视机、易燃的家用电器、变质的牛奶和错误的标签内容,这些企业一次又一次地欺骗消费者,逃避其应负的责任,直到问题越来越多,证据确凿,它们才姗姗来迟,承认问题的存在。这种漠视消费者的做法并不会给企业带来很大的损失,因为日本在产品责任诉讼方面的赔偿额度较低,有时甚至没有。
  
One glowing exception to this parsimonious record is the saga involving pharmaceutical companies that kept selling tainted blood products to hemophiliacs that left many of them infected with HIV in the 1980s. The government was aware of the issue and failed to stop this avoidable public health crisis. After years of denial, the current finance minister, Naoto Kan, who was health minister in 1994, revealed documents showing that the government allowed the companies to continue selling the bad blood so that they would not lose market share to foreign companies selling safe blood products. In doing so he paved the way for a relatively generous settlement and an abject apology by drug company executives, collectively on hands and knees touching their noses to the floor in demonstrating their contrition to victims.
在这方面,唯一的例外是发生在20世纪80年代的“毒血事件”。当时日本制药企业长期将受到污染的血液制剂卖给血友病患者,导致他们中的许多人患上艾滋病。日本政府明知问题存在,却没有采取措施制止这场本可避免的公共卫生悲剧的发生。在抵赖多年后,日本现任财相、当时的厚生大臣菅直人(Naoto Kan)在1994年公开相关文档,显示政府当时允许制药企业继续销售受污染的血液制剂,以免将市场份额拱手让给那些销售无污染的血液制剂的外国公司。菅直人的这一做法为相对慷慨的赔偿方案奠定了基础,并促使那些制药企业的高管向受害者磕头忏悔。

This crisis offers an opportunity to reform Toyota's corporate culture and improve quality assurance. This can be done by becoming more focused on the customer, using two-way flow of information and feedback; improving corporate governance by appointing independent outside directors; and making risk management more than an afterthought. It is not too late to turn the situation around, but this means shedding the constraints of a fusty corporate culture and wowing customers with a recall and above-and-beyond after-sales service and care. Yet early signs are that Toyota is no longer the nimble company that took the world by storm over the past half-century.
这次的危机为丰田改革企业文化和提高品质管控提供了一个契机,实施途径包括更加注重消费者权益、建立信息双向沟通和反馈机制、通过任命外部独立董事来优化企业治理结构,以及将风险管理从事后转向事前等。现在亡羊补牢,还为时未晚。然而,这意味着企业要挣脱陈腐文化的桎梏,向消费者提供超预期的优秀售后服务和客户关怀;但目前的迹象显示,丰田已不再是半个世纪前横扫全球市场的那个灵活多变的公司了。