The Toyota logo dominates the sign at a Toyota dealership
iStock photo/dogayusufdokdok

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 is the next step of human evolution human civilization? Dr. Jorge Calvo seems to think so. Join him to learn how the past can help you set goals for an exciting future of digital innovation.

Technovate Thinking

Business leaders of tomorrow need to harness the power of technology and innovation. That means understanding algorithms and how they drive business results. Discover opportunities to make technology work for your competitive edge.

How does innovation happen? Is it random chance, or can organizations take control to spark it?

Toyota is globally known for its strong culture, Japanese values, and kaizen processes. Toyota innovation almost seems to be in a class of its own.

Technovate Thinking

Business leaders of tomorrow need to harness the power of technology and innovation. That means understanding algorithms and how they drive business results. Discover opportunities to make technology work for your competitive edge.

GLOBIS alumna Zsuzsanna Járfás sat down with Nagaoka Institute of Technology’s Professor Tetsuya Kaida, a key architect behind several of Toyota Motor Corporation’s revolutionary concepts, to explore what really makes the magic of innovation happen.

Next Article

The Toyota Way: Imitate, Improve, Innovate

The Toyota Way is famous globally for its clarity and success as a guide for company culture. Here’s how it came to be and how Toyota is adapting it for the future of work.
Toyota HQ in Plano, Texas, where the Toyota Way is studied and evolved modern business

Moonshot Innovation: How to Lead Business Process Transformation

Moonshot innovation is a transformative process that requires a unique approach to leadership, teamwork, and culture.
A person at a desk dreams about an astronaut touching down on the moon thanks to an innovative mindset for business process transformation

How Toyota Hybrids Reworked the Japanese Sense of Innovation

Járfás: To start off, what does innovation mean to you?

Kaida: Interestingly enough, the term “innovation” doesn’t exist in the Japanese language. Many people think there’s no need for it.

Great masterminds like the architect Kisho Kurokawa and animator Hayao Miyazaki would never have called what they did “innovation” or “creativity.” They went about their daily routine, and their passion resonated in the hearts of a few people. Where others saw deviation from the norm, these first followers instead saw a story that would expand into the future.

That passion and imagination proved to be contagious. It attracted more followers, and the “story” started to be called “innovation.”

Járfás: Does the creation of Toyota technology like hybrid cars share the same pattern? Did you know you were working on a breakthrough when developing the Prius, for example?

Kaida: Absolutely not. It was all business as usual.

Project teams would gather regularly to brainstorm new ideas and develop concepts. We wanted to have multiple points of view, and therefore decided to draw project members from a wide range of departments. We needed experts in diverse disciplines.

While we definitely enjoy sponsorship for Toyota innovation at the highest executive level, we still encountered endless resistance from those who had “never heard of” what we were working on. Maybe they weren’t familiar with the advanced technology, or they didn’t see the value it would lend to the user experience yet, or they weren’t even aware of the need to be environmentally friendly. But over time, perseverance did pay off, and our internal network of allies grew.

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 is the next step of human evolution human civilization? Dr. Jorge Calvo seems to think so. Join him to learn how the past can help you set goals for an exciting future of digital innovation.

We owe the breakthrough to our fans in California. It’s thanks to them that our Toyota vehicle hybrids like the Prius became a market success despite so many brilliant ideas out there.

A Prius at a car show: The hybrid Toyota technology is showcased as a testament to careful Toyota innovation processes
The Toyota Prius is a testament to how innovation takes time, but pays off. | iStock/Sjo

Toyota Innovation: Part Planning, Part Serendipity

Járfás: It sounds like, even at Toyota, innovation was a slow process, in a way. How did you stay motivated to stay the course?

Kaida: An organization’s nature is to promote order and routine. Every once in a while, however, there comes a moment when people in the organization will want to listen to a new voice.

To go back to our case with the hybrids, the time and place were right. Our perseverance paid off, and corporate sponsors caught on to the idea. Influential fans read our story and found in it exactly what they were looking for. The Prius approach has informed a lot of Toyota technology and innovation since.

So it did require a lot of patience, but it paid off.

Next Article

The Best Decision-Making Is…SLOW

Slow decision-making is a hallmark of Japanese business, politics, and society. And while it can be frustrating, there are huge benefits.
A tortoise in business attire crossing a finish line ahead of a hare, illustrating the value of slow decision-making

Járfás: What’s your message to those who are frustrated trying to innovate at their own companies?

Kaida: Blossom where you are right now. Stop searching for paradise. Make every single opportunity you have, every single occasion that you are part of, a new piece of paradise. This will be your heritage, your future identity, and your reputation.

Too many people are obsessed with personal branding and standing out from the crowd. How about doing something meaningful for the crowd once in a while? How about looking around and finding opportunities to do things better?

Innovation should be an integral part of our daily lives. It starts with the little things, such as making your bed in the morning or cleaning up your desk at work.

Wanting to be Einstein, but waiting for someone to come and clean things up after you simply doesn’t work. We all need to create a sustainable environment of growth and harmony.

Try to improve the world we live in. Embrace blossoming in the here and now before planning to move ahead.

Connect with Insights

Trouble keeping up with all the insights? Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly career inspiration right in your inbox!
Your newsletter subscription with us is subject to the GLOBIS Privacy Policy.