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Chief of Agile at Toyota presents its lean corporate model in Puerto Rico

By on March 14, 2018

SAN JUAN – The expert in lean methodology, evangelist of the agile corporate culture and Chief of Agile at Toyota, Nigel Thurlow, announced he will be giving a talk Thursday about process implementation and improvement at Universidad del Este (UNE) in Carolina.

Considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the implementation of a lean corporate culture, obtained through years of collaboration with the international car manufacturer, Thurlow “evangelizes” about quality improvement and waste avoidance, teaching the public how to get more for less, while maintaining optimal production and excellent customer service.

“I think Puerto Rico has a fantastic opportunity for innovation. There are some great minds here with magnificent talent. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people so I think there is an absolute opportunity for the country to pick itself up and do wonderful things. But, to achieve this, we have to have the correct mentality,” Thurlow said in an interview with Caribbean Business.

Nigel Thurlow (Jaime Rivera / CB)

Regarding the situation on the island after the passage of Hurricane Maria, the expert said Puerto Rico has the human resources for the economy to flourish. However, he stressed the importance of a change in the mentality of how business is done locally.

“People must have a compelling reason to want that change, to innovate, to do something different. I think that although the hurricane certainly brought adversity and serious problems, it also brought great opportunity. But they have to find a way to create their own wealth, their own destiny and way out from that adversity, and I think that with some tools and techniques that we will share, we can help them greatly,” he said.

After collaborating with Toyota Motor North America, Turlow joined the Toyota Connected project as “Chief of Agile” to create and lead agile practice worldwide and spearhead the development of new automotive technologies.

“I come from Toyota Connected, and the UNE contacted me to hold an event where I could offer a lecture on the areas of lean methodology and innovation and help the recovery efforts of the island after the hurricane and not only that, but also in the efforts of economic recovery before the passage of the storm,” explained Thurlow.

“It’s a great opportunity. We are accomplishing important things in Toyota Connected as well as having achieved innovation in the operational processes of Toyota’s production system, beyond the features that have stood out for Toyota for decades. We are also moving toward the creation of much more agile production spaces and we thought it would be great to present all these achievements to the public in Puerto Rico,” he added.

Thurlow explained that Toyota Connected is a collaboration between the Japan-based company and software giant Microsoft established in 2016 that serves as a data science hub for Toyota’s global operations and seeks to connect cars and their owners meaningfully.

Toyota Connected aims to reimagine the use of data and technology to provide services to its customers that make their lives less complicated while reinforcing vehicle safety mechanisms in a convenient and fun way.

Thurlow explained that agile philosophy is a mentality, a state of mind, beyond a seminar or a professional training. The British expert added that the model is based on the way in which a group of people in a company acts and interrelates with each other.

“Agile was a concept that came from a manifesto written in 2011, when a group of technology experts met and decided to show the world how they worked, very different from the traditional vision of business management,” he said during the interview.

Among the 12 basic principles of the “Agile Manifesto” is the priority in customer service, the acceptance of changes in strategy, the creation of projects around motivated individuals, sustainable development and promoting face-to-face interpersonal communication, among others.

“In the manifesto, there are four main values and 12 basic principles. Very similar to the principles used by Toyota in its operations. The first value, for example, speaks about individuals’ interaction in the processes, so it tells us we prefer people who work together, in pairs and generating value together, opposed to only depending on the processes and corporate dogma,” he said.

“Another concept of values in the manifesto is the response to change after a change is implemented. So Toyota has been very effective implementing this mentality for many decades and has managed to show the world how to innovate while obtaining a product of optimum quality in a lean way, avoiding the production of unnecessary waste,” Thurlow added while noting respect for humanity and the elimination of waste during production as other important values in this philosophy.

The event, titled “Lean Leadership Innovation Summit,” runs Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carolina UNE. Those interested can register at the institution starting at 8 a.m.

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