J. Ignacio Lopez was forced out of his job as Volkswagen's top purchasing and manufacturing executive after General Motors appeared ready to defeat VW in a lawsuit over stolen corporate secrets. His autobiography, Tu puedes - Memorias de un trabajador, (You Can - Memories of a Worker), was published in Spain last month. Lopez was interviewed between two autograph sessions at the Madrid Book Fair by reporter Eduardo Azpilicueta.
What can the reader learn from this book?
This is not a philosophy volume, but a book on implementation. It illustrates concrete cases, not abstractions. Cases of real improvements and gains, based on a concept of new enterprise that we call Paradigm. All of them show that you need a theoretical and philosophical base, but most of all you have to materialize it. It's in the implementation, not in the explanation, where excellence of the system resides.
You mentioned Opel's factory in Figueruelas, Spain, as one of the cases that improved under your methods.
Figueruelas was started OK, with high professionality, and the workers were excellent. There was little to improve. The crucial point was materials, and that was duly attended to.
Please describe the goal and purpose of your new enterprise. Are you available for automotive firms?
Lopez de Arriortua y Asociados, International Enterprise Organization is, as its name indicates, an entity to help in organization. It is not a consulting firm, a term that I dislike. Our aim is creating prosperity for all. We cooperate with enterprises that have a similar philosophy to us in grounds of creation of value and protagonism of work force. We wouldn't cooperate, for instance, to rescue an enterprise with tricks and shortcuts. And of course we are open for the automotive industry.
Can your systems solve the terrible problem of unemployment in Spain?
We are in the middle of a global competition, and we all - not only a certain number - have to be better to survive. The firms unwilling or unable to improve at the rate requested by customers will be in danger. Protectionism is radically negative, always. Let's remind ourselves of the tale of the lion and the antelope. Both wake up in the jungle and know that, to survive, they have to run; one to hunt the prey and feed; the other to escape from the predator. No matter whether you're the lion or the antelope, you had better work hard from sunrise.