Nigel Thurlow previously served as the first-ever Chief of Agile at Toyota, where he created the World Agility Forum award-winning “Scrum the Toyota Way” and co-created The Flow System™, a holistic FLOW-based approach to delivering customer-first value built on a foundation of The Toyota Production System.
Throughout his career, Thurlow has gained an enviable recognition as a leading expert in Lean and Agile methods, tools, techniques, and approaches. He specializes in developing effective organizational designs and operating models for organizations to embrace both Lean and Agile concepts. By leveraging knowledge from various sources, Thurlow helps optimize organizations to enact successful, long-lasting transformational strategies in applying Lean thinking, Agile techniques, and Scrum – while combining complexity thinking, distributive leadership, and team science, represented by a triple helix structure known as the DNA of Organizations™.
As of 2024, he has trained over 8,500 people worldwide in Scrum, Agile, Lean, Flow, Complexity, and organizational design. Thurlow is a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST).
An instinctive problem solver, Nigel Thurlow takes a method-agnostic, cross-industry approach in helping organizations find the right tools, methods, and approaches to overcome challenges within their contextual situation. He advocates for the fact that there is not a one-size-fits-all prescriptive approach to agility; all tools have utility, but they also have contextual limitations. From this vantage point, Thurlow equips an organization’s people to become an army of problem solvers, expanding their perception of what they do so they can better understand and prepare for potential challenges along the way.
Thurlow is currently the Chief Executive Officer at The Flow Consortium, a collection of highly regarded companies in the Lean and Agile world — as well as the scientific and academic communities at large. The Flow Consortium strives to expand the boundaries of current Lean and Agile thinking through the understanding of complexity thinking, distributed leadership, and team science by tapping into the minds of top thought leaders from these concentrations.
While at Toyota, Thurlow worked to frame Scrum as more than just a standardized behavioral process by applying and advancing fundamental methodologies to spur innovative, forward-thinking solutions to Toyota’s most complex challenges. He also founded the Toyota Agile Academy in 2018. These efforts signaled a transformative phase for Toyota, leading the company towards organizational agility and helping its team members better understand this concept in an automotive production context.
Additionally, Thurlow has been a board presence at the University of North Texas since 2019, serving as an advisor to the Department of Information Science Board and a member of the College of Information Leadership Board. He has also served as the President of CDQ LLC since 2012. Prior to that, Thurlow held executive coaching and Agile training roles for companies including Scrum, Inc., GE Power & Water, 3M Health Information Systems, Bose Corporation, and The TJX Companies, Inc. – as well as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has also taught Scrum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
As an author, Thurlow was named a Forbes top 10 author for co-authoring the book “The Flow System™” in 2020. He has recently co-authored “The Flow System Playbook” published in 2023 which presents a practical study guide and reference book to all the concepts covered in the first book.
His other notable publications include “Introducing the Flow System (2019)” and “TPS and the Age of Destruction (2019).” He is also the co-author of The Flow Guide and The Flow System Principles and Key Attributes Guidebook. Recently, Thurlow co-authored “The Substrate Independence Theory,” a peer-reviewed scientific article exploring sensemaking techniques as a means to provide cognitively based scaffolds that guide and structure learning. His latest research is around Assemblages Theory and the interactions and novel emergence when combining diverse tools, techniques, methods, and approaches in contextual situations.
Thurlow also serves as a member on the Forbes Coaches Council writing and advising on business and leadership topics. He is the co-author of the upcoming book on Decision Making in Complexity.
Today, Nigel Thurlow remains at the forefront of innovation across the Lean, Agile, and Complexity thinking disciplines, striving to push existing ideologies to new horizons while eliminating critical misconceptions surrounding modern applications.
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