Project X – Strategies and Lessons Learned


 By Rania Al-Maghraby, PMP, OPM3

OneWayForward Inc.

Cairo, Egypt


Project X is a documentary film series produced by Japan Broadcast Corporation (NHK), featuring tens of breakthrough innovative projects that formed Japanese development and industrial excellence since after WWII. Startup and evolution of major Japanese names in various industries are presented through this series.

Giving the wealth of potential lessons learned from these pioneer projects and how they made their way to success, I reviewed just a few films from this series, and tried to extract strategies applied and lessons learned from them. Here, we will talk about three films from this series.

Project 1 – Toyota’s First Car “Crown” 


pmwj21-apr2014-Al-Maghraby-IMAGE1It was already 30 years of experience of making automobiles in Japan by the American company Ford, when enthusiastic engineers at Toyota were dreaming to launch a manufacturing line to make the first ever Japanese made car. Challenges faced lined up, starting from getting buy-in from the company management to accept the idea, to securing fund in light of economic troubles and employees strikes, to technical challenges faced during the several experiments to manufacture the car itself, and racing with contemporary attempts by local emerging manufacturers. It took them 5 years to release the first Japanese car, named “Crown”, manufactured by Toyota, which is still one of its leading brands until this time.

Strategies and Lessons Learned:

  • A champion was the pivotal factor in this success story. Mr. Nakamura, the idea initiator and the project manager, who believed in his dream despite many set-backs. Being in his mid-30’s, he wasn’t seeking personal benefits, but only focused on a clear target of manufacturing domestic vehicles, devoted his time and efforts to achieving this dream, and even rejected head-hunting offers from the most prominent manufacturer at that time, Ford.
  • Society culture and the Japanese self-pride, especially after WWII, is evident when local taxi companies chose to purchase from the new locally manufactured cars rather than ordering from other companies. If it will run on Japan roads, then it’s better to be a Japanese car. Resistance to change existed on the way when some sounds considered it a mere dream to manufacture a local car at that time, it’s easier to get it ready from America.
  • Persistence on achieving the goal and performing several technical experiments, and seeking consulting advices from technical specialists, are personal characteristics that enabled staff involved in this project to succeed.
  • Research and development related to the scientific aspects of the project were essential in turning the dream into an actual reality.
  • Celebrating success strengthened perception of the new product when the “Crown” team accepted the challenge of trying it on a London-Tokyo land trip, and it made it.


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About the Author

flag-egyptRania-Al-MaghrabyRania Al-Maghraby

Cairo, Egypt

Ms. Rania Al-Maghraby is an independent management consultant from Egypt. She is PMP® certified, ITIL® Foundation certified, MSc Computer Science, and a certified OPM3®Professional. Rania is the owner and general manager of the OneWayForward Inc. (www.OneWayForward.com), a sole proprietary consultation firm based in Egypt. She is a speaker at several professional events including PMI Global Congress and IPMA World Congress. She has published a number of papers and articles in wide spread international magazines, journals, conference proceedings, and authored books. Rania has contributed to professional development over years as a member in a number of committees and professional organizations. She has worked across local and international private sector companies, NPOs, and governmental organizations of various industries. Her interests include Project Management, Open Standards, Business Administration, and Academic Research. Personal Website: www.OneWayForward.info. She can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Rania Al-Maghraby previously published in the PM World Journal, visit her author showcase at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/rania-al-maghraby/.