Norman Bodek Interview
Strategos: Would you tell us about Dr.
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
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,
Strategos: Who was the most colorful
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
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,
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 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
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.