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The Toyota Effect & St. Bernard Project

The St. Bernard Project is one of the most successful non-profit organizations in New Orleans. Folks from down the street and from around the world gather to give their time to make the lives of folks who are need of help to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Believe it or not, there’s a large percentage of families who have yet to return to their homes even a decade later. Here’s a bit more about SBP from their website.

“SBP was founded in March 2006 by Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney after the couple, who originally lived in Washington, D.C. volunteered in St. Bernard Parish following Hurricane Katrina, in February 2006. Inspired by residents’ collective spirit and fierce desire to rebuild their homes and communities, Zack and Liz launched SBP to help the community achieve its recovery goals.”

I recently saw the short film “Coming Home | The Toyota Effect” and was moved byits message. For several years now Toyota has been partnering with the St. Bernard Project to help take steps to learn and be more efficient in everything they do, in order to help more families get back home. In the beginning of the film, one of Toyota’s Advisors, Scott Porter says “If we do something well, we want to share, we want to give it back to the community.” Toyota is lending a big hand in helping SBP and their entire organization grow through efficiency in the systems they’ve helped put in place.

In the film, you’ll see one of the many families who have been part of the lifelong change the collaboration between Toyota + SBP has provided. Through their collaboration, many folks have been made whole. It’s just one of the catalyst of change we’re seeing in Nola. Below you’ll find the film and some post-film follow-up Q&A’s with Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney.

How do you think the Toyota Production System will impact results in the next year?

We now utilize TPS across the organization, and through each affiliate.  SBP is now in the process of building our New Orleans and national headquarters, which includes a construction training center for at-risk young people and veterans.  TPS and support from Toyota will help SBP build the facility in a way that reduces muda – waste – and that, through its layout, increases efficiency.

What has been the most challenging part about implementing the Toyota Production System into your organization?

 The hardest part for me, personally, about implementing TPS is the need to learn to ask questions, and not offer solutions.  On component of TPS is the firm understanding that the best ideas come from the people who do the work.  Toyota’s trainers are experts in asking thoughtful questions, and not being proscriptive.  This process, when done well, leads to better solutions that are firmly adopted by the team.

What improvements have you made to the organization after the TPS process?

Based on Toyota’s notion of Yokoten – if you do something well, you should share it – SBP launched out Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab, which trains other organizations to utilize SBP’s non-profit rebuilding processes.  We believe that SBP’s success shouldn’t just be tied to the number of houses that we build, but instead should be tied to our success in making the industry more efficient so that citizens, across the country, can move home in a prompt, efficient and predictable manner.

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