New Century

Feb 9th, 2009

Notably missing from my recounting of this story are Principles 2-6 of the Toyota Way (under the category, The Right Process Will Produce the Right Results). These deal more with the processes used at Toyota to do the detailed work. These principles (creating flow, leveling the work load, stopping the process to ensure high quality, […]

Feb 8th, 2009

The seemingly impossible deadlines set by top leadership for the Prius project and the numerous technical challenges faced by the Prius engineers dramatically improved Toyota’s already excellent product development process in two key ways: 1. The cross-functional team and chief engineer work together almost daily in the same room (obeya). In Toyota’s traditional approach, in […]

Feb 7th, 2009

Over the next few months, Uchiyamada worked closely with the styling studios, the artists of the industry, to design the Prius. Finally, in July 1996, Uchiyamada had a car to develop. Once a car style development process reaches this point, it is called a clay model freeze—though auto executives are notorious for making significant changes […]

Feb 6th, 2009

But something important happened in August 1995. Toyota named a new president, Hiroshi Okuda, the first non-Toyoda family member to be the president in the history of the company. From the outside, he was viewed as unusual for the Toyota culture. Okuda was more overtly aggressive in his business dealings, including globalization. He also had […]

Feb 5th, 2009

From the time Uchiyamada agreed to develop a hybrid concept vehicle in November 1994 until the deadline for the auto show in October 1995, there was less than a year to develop at least a workable hybrid engine and the vehicle itself. With extreme time pressure, the temptation would be to make a very fast […]

Feb 4th, 2009

At this point in 1994, the team still had rejected the notion of a hybrid engine. It was considered too new and risky technology. In September 1994, the team met with Executive VP Akihiro Wada and Managing Director Masanao Shiomi and the hybrid technology came up, but no conclusion was reached. The G21 group was […]

Feb 3rd, 2009

Uchiyamada proved to be a creative leader, yet very focused on achieving aggressive timing targets. In fact, the more detailed conceptual blueprint was completed in just six months. Normally the first step in this phase would have been to develop a physical prototype. But Uchiyamada decided that if they quickly made a prototype they would […]

Feb 2nd, 2009

The next step was to develop a more detailed blueprint for the vehicle. High-level executives pondered who should lead the effort and settled on the unlikely choice of Takeshi Uchiyamada as the chief engineer. Uchiyamada hadn’t been groomed to be a chief engineer and never even aspired to this role. His technical background was in […]

Feb 1st, 2009

Risuke Kubochi, General Manager of General Engineering, stepped forward and agreed to lead the effort. He was formerly the chief engineer of Celica. He had a reputation for being aggressive and not terribly friendly, but strongly determined to accomplish any task he undertook. Kubochi personally selected 10 middle managers to work on his team. This […]