In business circles Toyota is talked of with awe. Not for its cars or well-heeled Formula One team, but because it is a manufacturer that has a policy that has lifted it from Japanese almost ran, to serious rival to Ford in Henry Ford's home, the USA.
The list of organisations that have tried to ape the Toyota 'lean production' method includes rivals GM and Ford, aerospace giants Boeing and even the NHS. Jora Gill is one of many business people to admire Toyota, but he can also claim to have achieved a similar success story.
Lean manufacturing allows Toyota, or any organisation using it, to develop products quickly, reduce the time it takes to produce an end result and have zero to low levels of waste. Toyota can develop a new model of car in just 18 months and in 2006 it took just 29 hours to built a Toyota from scratch.
General Motors took 33 hours at best. A decade ago GM and Ford were taking 50 per cent longer to build their vehicles than Toyota and the final product was famous for its unreliability, while Toyota are famous for the opposite.
Since joining Standard & Poor's (S&P) as VP for international business systems in 2006, Gill has taken his inspiration from the company and introduced Agile development and project management system that is gaining popularity.
Gill uses Toyota as an example of why Agile is well worth adopting. "It's better value. Toyota's business has taken off because it's delivering faster, and better quality.
"Describing how it overtook the stalwarts he adds, "It's not taken off because they're cost cutting, which is where Ford are, or GM." Like the car manufacturer, he believes it is all about re-appraising how the organisation views its return on investment, and in doing so it will realise that it is seeing a return more rapidly, which means revenue is coming in more quickly.
Although a mass manufacturer, what Gill respects about Toyota is that it has ditched the traditional way of mass manufacturing and instead "produces our cars as our customer wants, and they can have what they want when they need it".
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