Friday, November 13, 2009

Tokai Japan Canada Society - Canada Means Business

Canada Means Business; Speakers Corner

Volume 2: Ron Haigh

Toyota Motor Corporation; Overseas External Division

Learning from Mistakes and Remembering Why We are Here

“Mistakes are a part of life. It’s your response to error that counts.” - Nikki Giovanni, Poet

We are pleased to announce another successful event, the second volume in Canada Means Business; Speakers Corner series was held this past Thursday November 5th with over 25 attendees from Japan, Canada, USA and Australia. Introduced by our lovely Business Committee member and MC for the night Ms. Rika Tanaka; our guest Mr. Ron Haigh highlighted the history of the automobile, and how Toyota evolved into the international success we all know today. Beginning with company founders Sakichi Toyoda and Kichiro Toyoda we learned how the company adapted from early mistakes to continually improve its operations. One of the key principles to this ongoing improvement explained was Monozukuri, which is a key component of Japanese industry but is also a mainstay of the Tokai business scene, monozukuri (モノズクリ) states that the goal is to add value to society by producing things of exceptional value and to do so under the spirit of kaizen or the ‘spirit to produce excellent products and the ability to constantly improve a production system and process’.

Another key principle introduced by Mr. Haigh is Jidoka, (自働カ ) which is the process of man and machine working in unison to create products in order to benefit society. This was highlighted in the viewing of the Toyota assembly line through a DVD presentation showing how Toyota continually improves it’s processes utilizing it’s employees to add value at all aspects of the production process.

The closing portion was an explanation of how Toyota continued to learn from mistakes with it’s launch of Lexus in North America and how even though the cars were recalled Toyota went far beyond anyone’s expectations and sent technicians to owners and through this and many other measures earned the respect of the North American market with it’s dedication to one thing and one thing only, the customer.

The presentation was concluded with the future of hybrid technology and how Toyota is moving ahead with the Prius model and it’s latest release the hybrid only model which will be on sale in Japan on December 7. With only an hour and ten minutes, Mr. Haigh delivered an entertaining and powerful presentation, which left the audience eager for more.

We hope to have Mr. Haigh back for a follow up event early in the new year to finish his story as there is so much more to know about this extraordinary company.

A special thank you goes out to Mr. Haigh for coming down from Tokyo for giving us a great presentation. As well I would like to thank Ms. Rika Tanaka (MC), James Hedden (V.P. & Co-Chair), and Bruce McCaughn (Communication Committee Chair) for all the help in making the event possible. As well I would like to thank Mr. Allan Edwards from the Consulate here in Nagoya and Mr. Paul Thoppil, Commercial Minister, Trade Commissioner Service (Embassy of Canada in Tokyo) with their continued support we can all look forward to more events in the near future.

We are looking forward to finishing our 2009 Canada Means Business Series with the final installment being the Meet n Greet on December 2nd.

We are also looking for new members who would like to join the committee for 2010, please send an email to and join us for another great year!

Colin Walker

TJCS Business Committee; Co-chair

Comments from our guests:

This bi-monthly business seminar is a great way to learn about business in Japan and interact with many people involved in international business in Nagoya. TJCS invites speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and industries and the networking is amazing! インタナショナルビジネスはここからスタート!私のお勧めです!

- Steve Burson


H & R Consultants

Contact Steve Here

With a company the size of Toyota, I figured that there must be other Canadian employees, but had yet to run into anyone until the Canada Means Business seminar. I started working for Toyota in 2007 after five years working for a tool and die maker in Takahama City, Aichi Prefecture. Through my years in Japan I have learned that "senpai", or superiors, are regarded as a great source of wisdom and advice, so I was eager to meet Ron Haigh and hear about his experience at Toyota over the past 20 years. Ron's speech about how Toyota has learned from its mistakes, yet remained steadfast to its principles, motivated me in my work as well. Many of the concepts were familiar to me and I already apply them everyday on the production floor, but Ron's personal anecdotes added humour to the story and made it very entertaining. Events like these give me a great networking opportunity and I look forward to participating in the future.

- Allison Teasdale,

Toyota Motor Company

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