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Why are we hearing so much about Shingo?

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What is Shingo?

The Shingo Model™ is named after Shigeo Shingo, an industrial engineer from Japan who is considered to be the leading expert on manufacturing processes and on the Toyota Production System. The model is a way of achieving operational excellence. In fact every year, the Shingo Institute awards a prize for a company operating at the highest standard of operational excellence in the world.

There are several reasons that the model is seen as increasingly relevant today. One of these is that unlike say, Lean, the model emphasises the organisational culture as the key to unlocking operational excellence. That puts it very much in tune with today’s businesses, in which culture is seen as the key to improving productivity, retaining staff, encouraging innovation and raising quality.

Can it be taught?

While many manufacturing employees sent on Lean courses found Lean simply baffling, Shingo has what might be described as profound simplicity, and people find its principles much easier to get to grips with. Shingo can also be seen as a transformation process, rather than just another set of protocols to follow.

Leaders must be trained and able to lead with humility

There are ten basic principles that guide the model and help a manufacturing organisation to achieve a culture that puts excellence at its core. There’s an emphasis on the leaders engaging in personal reflection and training before they attempt to teach or lead others.

In this respect, Shingo is more like a philosophy than another business protocol. One of its guiding principles is to “lead with humility”, and leaders are seen as people who must instil cultural change to enable others to succeed, rather than commanders who issue directives.

Respect for the individual is also a key guideline. Since so many organisations are now trying to value and embrace diversity in the workforce, it becomes clear how well Shingo training fits with the needs of the modern workforce.

How Shingo training can transform a manufacturing business

A manager who has understood this method is half way along the journey of transformation that many organisations are attempting, in order to ensure their survival in a fast-changing business environment.

However, Shingo training is not simply a feel-good exercise. Shingo has its roots in manufacturing, and in the Toyota Production System. Consequently, the model emphasises the need to focus on process. Embracing scientific thinking is a key part of the philosophy, as is thinking systemically and adopting continuous improvement. The “Flow and Pull Value” guideline is all about making the value stream to the customer shorter and more direct. Creating value for the customer goes along with this.

Other guidelines in Shingo encompass ensuring quality, seeking perfection and having constancy of purpose.

These insights are beginning to be applied beyond manufacturing. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, authors Toussaint and Correia identify process variability as the biggest problem in healthcare and quote Shingo as one of the “manufacturing gurus” whose model helped us understand that a process must be stabilised before it is standardised, in order to gain improvements.

As Shingo becomes more and more widely discussed and used, employees in manufacturing and process industries will increasingly benefit from training in the guidelines.




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