The Shingo Model -- Will it Work in Your Organization?

In February, Gerhard Plenert published a book entitled Driving the Enterprise to Sustainable Excellence:  A Shingo Process Overview. Essentially, his book presents a big-picture overview of the entire Shingo improvement process. It fully discusses the needs and benefits of the Shingo process, and what is required if you seek to execute the Shingo Model in your enterprise and focuses on creating an enduring organization-wide continuous improvement process. 

When I spoke with Gerhard this month, I asked him: "What does your book provide that readers cannot get from the Shingo-Model course materials?" Here is his complete answer:

Countless organizations have, at one time or another, began a “Lean jour­ney” or they have implemented a continuous improvement initiative of some sort. At the foundation of these initiatives is a plethora of tools that seem to promise exciting new results. While many organizations may initially see significant improvements, far too many of these initiatives meet disap­pointing ends. Leaders quickly find that Lean tools such as Six Sigma, judoka, SMED, 5S, JIT, quality circles, etc. are not independently capable of effecting lasting change. There is an integrated synergy that occurs between these various tools built upon a set of eternal principles, that creates an environment of lasting change. That is the topic of this book -- How to create a sustainable culture of continuous improvement.

Years ago, the Shingo Institute set out on an extended study to deter­mine the difference between short-lived successes and sustainable results. Over time, the Institute noticed a common theme: the difference between successful and unsuccessful effort is centered on the ability of an orga­nization to ingrain into its culture timeless and universal principles rather than rely on the superficial implementation of tools and programs. These findings are confirmed time and again by nearly three decades of assessing organizational culture and performance as part of the Shingo Prize process. Since 1988, Shingo examiners have witnessed first-hand how quickly tool-based organizations decline in their ability to sustain results. On the other hand, organizations that anchor their improvement initiatives to principles experience significantly different results. This is because principles help people understand the “why” behind the “how” and the “what.”

To best illustrate these findings, the Shingo Institute developed the Shingo Model™ (see Chart 0.1), the accompanying Shingo Guiding Principles, and the Three Insights of Enterprise Excellence™. The Shingo Institute offers a series of six workshops designed to help participants understand these principles and insights and to help them strive for excellence within their respective organizations.

My book is not a detailed review or a replacement of any of the Shingo workshops that teach in-depth the Shingo methodology far beyond what this book is capable of doing. This book is an overview of the entire Shingo process, starting with a discussion of the challenges that many of today’s enterprises are experiencing. I, in my role as a Ph.D. in economics, have studied industries and has worked closely with many of them, attempting to understand their weaknesses. I has found that this is the only methodology that encompasses the Toyota Production System (TPS) principles at a depth and level that just studying the TPS tools can never accomplish.

Next, this book builds upon an understanding of these weaknesses. The book discusses how the overall Shingo methodology fits into these organizations and highlights the benefits. The next step is then to discuss what requirements are necessary for an organization to get ready for a Shingo transformation. What are the steps that the organization needs to go through, and when will it know that it is ready to begin?

This book briefly reviews the Shingo Insights and Principles and explains how the Shingo courses should be best utilized to facilitate the desired transformation. It suggests some alternative plans for over-all implementation based on the current state of the enterprise. It explains why there is no “one way” for successful implementation and how the implementation sequence needs to be customized to fit the requirements of each enterprise. It also discusses the length of time needed for success and how this differs depending on the current enterprise environment.

Lastly, the book explains how the implementation of a continuous improvement methodology and Shingo training for any enterprise is never finished. It is an on-going process and success is defined by internal improvements, not by some arbitrary external benchmark.

The book is intended to be educational, thought-provoking, entertaining in its stories and examples, and a guideline towards the development of a plan for continuous improvement. This book is filled with stories and examples, showing successful and not-so-successful implementations. The stories are used to highlight many of the pitfalls that have arisen and may arise for you and which can be avoided if the reader is aware of them and knows how to watch for them.

The Shingo methodology, which is recognized as the world standard for developing enterprise excellence, offers access to a large volume of specialized information on how to achieve a sustainable environment of continuous improvement. However, before this book, there wasn't a high-level overview of the entire Shingo methodology. That is what this book offers. It offers a high-level review of all the elements of the Shingo methodology and is an excellent introduction for anyone looking for an overall vision of what a Shingo implementation means to themselves and to their organization.

This book is filled with ideas intended to help the perspective Shingo implementor achieve success. Let’s make you, the reader, successful.

What is your experience with the Shingo Model? Have you used it in your organization? Do you feel Gerhard's book is an asset to those organizations seeking to build a sustainable culture of organizational excellence?