On the Lean Guru Shigeo Shingo

Shigeo ShingoShigeo Shingo is a name that everyone in the United States lean community knows. He is sometimes considered “the world’s leading expert on manufacturing practices and the Toyota Production System,” an “engineering genius,” and the foremost guru of lean production. Some sources even claim he invented the Toyota Production System and taught Taiichi Ohno. Shingo greatly helped to popularize the idea of Lean in the USA. However, he invented much less than what is sometimes claimed, and there is also quite some disagreement in the lean community on this. Let’s have a look at his life and his achievements.

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The Tale of Taylor and Gilbreth

Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr.
Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr.

Modern workplace management undoubtedly started with Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856–1915), who almost single-handedly created modern industrial management. He was the first to measure industrial work and apply the results to improve efficiency. Even so, efficiency was greatly improved by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (1868–1924 and 1878–1972 respectively). Unfortunately, Frederick Taylor and Frank Gilbreth were at war with each other. This post looks into the history of how the conflict started, and how Lillian Gilbreth resolved the conflict after their deaths.

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