Apparently, in early 2007 – at the peak of the real estate bubble – the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) came to the “inescapable conclusion that owning [their]own building was the smartest long-term investment for the association.” So with $75 million in financing, they purchased a new headquarters building. Then on February 5, 2010, they announced that they had sold it for a little over $41 million. Oops.
This is the sort of fiasco that the mortgage industry can dine out on for years. But it’s just the latest irony that we’ve witnessed recently. Remember the advocates of unbridled capitalism on Wall St. asking for government assistance so that they could continue to do “God’s work“? Then paying out billions in bonuses with taxpayer money? Irony verging on outrage.
But more ironic to mortgage quality professionals, and likely to have a larger impact, is another major story these days: the recall of millions of cars by Toyota due to quality issues.
Toyota? Poor quality? How could the company that virtually invented the quality revolution in manufacturing over the past 50 years be in this position?
As one article points out, it was a combination of things: the goal to be Number One in the world driving rapid expansion; increasingly complex products with multiple potential points of risk/failure; uninterrupted success leading to arrogance; a culture that discouraged bad news; and managerial sclerosis. (One might almost be talking about Wall Street).
It might seem like the compeuppance of a world leader in the quality movement would negate the value of a quality culture. Yet this story may unfold to include other car manufacturers, too. Everyone is trying to sell as many complex ‘world cars’ as they can, and each car shares components with other cars in manufacturers’ product lines. Will Toyota’s brand be the only one tarnished? Probably not. But Toyota will recover, while others may not. And Toyota at least will re-learn a basic lesson: don’t rest on your laurels.