I’ve been lucky enough to know Norman Bodek for several years. He was the original translator of many of the works of of Shigeo Shingo and Taiichi Ohno, which thereby helped launch the Toyota Production System and lean manufacturing into North America. Regular readers know that I have a strong focus on the people side of lean, the oft-forgotten second pillar. Norman has been the inspiration behind that passion.
A couple months ago he led another study mission to Japan and almost immediately upon his return he contacted me to discuss many of his observations. To help share the information I suggested that he should write a series of articles for Superfactory detailing what he observed, and he obliged… quickly. The first of the series is here. The following is a brief excerpt:
I know of a president of a manufacturing company who gets highly frustrated with the lack of performance from his plant managers. He feels that the plant managers should be able to eliminate the defect problems. It occurred to me just recently that the president should be on the factory floor to demonstrate to his plant managers that the defect problems can be solved. Often, we want others to do what we cannot do or are unwilling to do. Ohno, was a very powerful manager in charge of all of the Toyota plants and around 300 suppliers. He would ask his managers to solve problems, give them a deadline as to when they should be solved and always followed up to see that it was done. If Ohno could not do it, he always had Dr. Shingo who could.
Norman Bodek is also one of the editors of a recently translated book by Shigeo Shingo, Kaizen and the Art of Creative Thinking. The book just became available at Enna, and Norman was nice enough to send me an excerpt… Chapter 5, From Ideas to Reality. The entire chapter can be downloaded here. A quick quote from the excerpt:
Even the greatest idea can become meaningless in the rush to judgment. To gauge an idea as feasible we must cut our ties to the status quo and find the balance between constructive criticism and judgment. Within that balance we will uncover crucial input for making our ideas a reality.
It’s a fascinating read, and I’d highly recommend that you pick up a copy.