Shigeo Shingo

Co-Founder of TPS 

Norman Bodek Interview

Strategos: Would you tell us about Dr. Shingo?

Bodek: To attain the goal of continuous improvement Shingo was relentless in stimulating people to change for the better.  "Can't be done "and " impossible," were not part of his vocabulary. He knew there were many ways to solve problems, like there were many paths to reach the top of Mt. Fuji.

Whenever Dr. Shingo left a client he gave them homework.  Just like at school we need to learn and work afterwards in our quest for competitive excellence.  Dr. Shingo expected his clients to have the work completed before he came back a month later. He didn't want them to waste time and he didn't want them to waste his time. 

Nakao, the principle in Shingijutsu Consulting who worked with Dr. Shingo said, "I was always afraid of Dr. Shingo. He would always leave me homework and he expected me to do it." Dr. Shingo's parting works were, "Do it!"

Strategos: Who was the most colorful personality?

Bodek: Dr. Shingo was the most colorful and the most devoted to helping industry become more efficient. He worked into his eighties; never retired. He knew the increased wealth that would come to the world from the Toyota Production System.

One day he was explaining Baka-yoke, fool-proofing devices, created and implemented by workers on the factory floor. A young woman started to cry. "Why are you crying?" He asked. "Because I am not a fool," she answered. "I am truly sorry." And at that exact moment he changed the name from Baka-yoke to Poka-yoke, mistake-proofing devices.

Strategos: Not everyone makes cars. How did Shingo approach other industries?

Bodek: Every industry has waste. Every industry can change and improve. Lean applies to hospitals, call centers, hotels, everyone who wants to be more competitive.

Shigeo Shingo Career Highlights

Shigeo ShingoShigeo Shingo was born in 1909 at Saga City, Japan where he attended the Saga Technical High School. After graduation from Yamanashi Technical College in 1930 he went to work for the Taipei Railway Company.

In 1943 shingo was transferred to the Amano Manufacturing Plant in Yokohama. As Manufacturing Section Chief, he raised productivity 100%. Shingo worked for several manufacturers in 1945 and 1946 and also began a long association with the Japanese Management Association (JMA).

From 1946-1954 Shingo had many assignments, delivered several important papers and crystallized his ideas on process and plant layout. He also applied Statistical Process Control.

In 1955, Dr. Shingo began another long association, this time with Toyota. In addition to his many consulting assignments in other industries. It is during this period that he first started work on setups by doubling the output of an engine bed planer at Mitsubishi's shipyard.

In 1959, Dr. Shingo left JMA to start his own consulting company. During the early 1960's, as an outgrowth of work with Matsushita, he developed his concepts of "Mistake-Proofing."

In 1969, SMED was originated when he cut the setup time on a 1000 ton press at Toyota from 4.0 hours to 3.0 minutes. During the 1970's, Shingo traveled in Europe and North America on many lectures, visits and assignments. He began to see Toyota's efforts as an integrated system and began to assist several U.S. and European firms in implementation.

Dr. Shigeo Shingo has written 14 major books and hundreds of important papers on manufacturing. The Shingo Prize is awarded for excellence in manufacturing as a tribute to Dr. Shingo and his lifelong work. He died in 1990.

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The Strategos Guide To Value Stream and Process Mapping goes  beyond symbols and arrows. In over 163 pages it tells the reader not only how to do it but what to do with it.

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