Shigeo Shingo : Quiet Firebrand

Photographs of Shingo suggest a very mild-mannered professorial type. But that demeanor apparently could, and did, disappear in a flash when anyone misunderstood a key concept.

Photographs of Shingo suggest a very mild-mannered professorial type. But that demeanor apparently could, and did, disappear in a flash when anyone misunderstood a key concept.

Shingo Prize director Ross Robson recalls meeting Shingo in Indianapolis, during the Toyota engineer’s last trip to the U.S. “I asked what I thought was an excellent two-part question,” Robson says. But Shingo said simply, “That second question is stupid.” And that was the end of that.

On another occasion, Shingo was invited to visit a U.S. manufacturing plant. In his honor, they had hung up a poster that read “Eliminate waste.” Rather than get into niceties, he launched into a mini tirade on the poster. “It should say ‘identify waste’,” he said, “because you can’t eliminate it if you haven’t identified it.”

That is a point that every manufacturer should keep in mind.  
 

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