Rituso Shingo on The Toyota Production System and SMED

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My guest for Episode #409 of the Lean Blog Interviews podcast is Ritsuo Shingo. I first met Mr. Shingo at the Shingo Institute Annual Conference in 2009 when my book Lean Hospitals received the publication prize that's named after his father, Shigeo Shingo. I was also blessed to have time to speak 1×1 with Mr. Shingo, thanks to our mutual friend, the late Norman Bodek, which included discussions about the need for mistake proofing in healthcare — very vivid memories for me.

Ritsuo Shingo, Mark Graban, and Bob Miller

Ritsuo Shingo is an expert in leadership with more than 40 years of experience serving at top management positions at Toyota. 

He was the founder and the first president of Toyota China. Under his leadership, Toyota China became one of the most successful ventures of Toyota worldwide. Following this success, he was appointed as the president of Hino Motors and then served as the president of GAC-Hino until 2009.

Shingo was the translator of the first book on Toyota Production System in English written by his father, TPS pioneer, Shigeo Shingo in 1976.  He applied his father's and other TPS pioneers' teachings into his management practices.

Today he dedicates his time to coaching high-level executives as well as teaching the next generation of leaders his learnings from the practice of Toyota style management. He is teaching a virtual master class in leadership and management, which starts this Thursday:

Practical Leadership Skills – Microcertification program in Management

The Program

  • Three live seminars of 2 hours with practical information​
  • A 30-minute practice session with the sensei to discuss student's cases and get advice.
  • ​A private discussion group to network with peers and share experiences. 
  • A certificate in “Practical Leadership Skills” upon completion

There will be a discount available for listeners of this podcast – use code 8QQV4AWY0VDF and tell them you heard about it via the Lean Blog Podcast. Disclosure: the NK Institute for Human Advancement offered me a free virtual seat in the workshop.

Topics and questions in today's episode include:

  • What was the most important thing you learn from your father?
  • What do you remember about translating the green book?
  • Big misunderstanding… in the West, they thought suppliers should keep big inventory even though Toyota had none
    • Just in time requires local suppliers, frequent deliveries, and high quality
    • You need close relationships with suppliers, win/win collaboration
  • How do you explain TPS?
    • “An accumulation of small improvements”
  • “Wherever you go, workers are not the problem”
    • “It's a management problem, but sometimes they blame workers”
    • He told a plant manager he was “escaping from his responsibility”
  • What is the origin of the term SMED – Single Minute Exchange of Die?
    • What are the golf origins?
    • Should it have been called SDED – Single Digit Exchange of Die, since it means “single digit minutes” not “one minute”?
    • “It's too late”
  • You define TPS as “organisational fitness to adapt” rather than a set of methodologies — what do you mean by that? Please tell us more…
    • “Nobody ever told me what Toyota culture was” — the culture is the people
  • Is a fully automated plant the best plant? No
  • How has Toyota fared so well during the pandemic?
  • Helping the supplier reduce costs together, versus just demanding a lower price (Nissan, Tesla, etc.)
  • Favorite memories of our friend Norman Bodek?
  • Tell us more about the workshop

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network

I hope you enjoy it like I did. You can scroll down for a full transcript, also.



Thanks for listening!!

This podcast is part of the Lean Communicators network… check it out!


Full Transcript:

Mark Graban: The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year. They're the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. If you haven't heard of them, they're a quiet company but with a deep history of helping the best Lean companies in the world, build their teams.

From the C-suite to plant managers, Lean directors to supply chain experts, they cover it all. Stiles Associates will work with you to build a customized search strategy. Then they use their proprietary network of proven executives to find the right match. They're so confident in the process they offer a satisfaction guarantee.

If you're struggling to find the right talent, give Stiles Associates a call at 800-322-5185 or check them out online at leanexecs.com/podcast.

Mark: I'm very honored today that our guest on the podcast is Ritsuo Shingo. He is a familiar name, I'm sure, to listeners of this podcast. Needless to say, he's an expert in leadership. He has more than 40 years of experience working at Toyota, serving in top management positions.

He has been working since his retirement from Toyota, to help other leaders in other organizations. Mr. Shingo was the founder, he was the first president of Toyota China. Under his leadership, Toyota China became one of the most successful ventures within Toyota worldwide.

Following this success, he was appointed as the president of Hino Motors, and he then served as the president of GAC-Hino until 2009. Mr. Shingo was translator of the first book on the Toyota Production System in English, that was written by his father, TPS pioneer Shigeo Shingo in 1976.

He applied his father's and other pioneers' teachings into his management practices.

Today, Mr. Shingo dedicates his time in coaching high-level executives, as well as teaching the next generation of leaders his learnings from the practice of Toyota-style management. We'll talk about this more later, and there will be links in the show notes.

He is teaching a virtual class on leadership that's starting on April 15, and I'll invite everybody to learn more about that workshop.

Mr. Shingo, thank you so much. It's an honor to have you here as a guest. How are you?

Ritsuo Shingo: Oh, you're most welcome. I'm very pleased. It's my pleasure to be here.

Mark: It's an honor to speak to you. I saw you give remarks at Shingo Conference, I think, 10 years ago, and I'm very excited that we can hear some of your thoughts today. Then, I can share it with the podcast audience.

One thing I'd like to ask, thinking back to what you learned from your father even at a young age, what was the most important or what were some of the most important lessons that you learned from your father, Shigeo Shingo?

Ritsuo: One big things I have learned from him is from his back. [laughs] He is always working. I've never seen him doing something else than working.

What do I have heard? He's on the train in Shinkansen, but at a train, he's writing a book. When he was home, he was recording for the lecture. Always, he was working. He was a very enthusiastic. He does a good job. That kind of attitude is something I have learned from him.

Mark: Beyond how hard he worked, what were do you think the most important lessons that were captured that were written in the famed green book that you translated? What do you think is the most important thing that somebody reading it today should understand from that book?

Ritsuo: It was quite a long time ago. Very difficult to remember. That book was his understanding, basic understanding about TPS. He appreciate TPS. Sometime he wrote that kanban is not a concept. It's just a tool. Sometime he mentioned kanban is nonsense, but he doesn't really mean. He didn't really mean it is meaningless. No.

The kanban is very important, but he tried to let the people understand the much deeper concept rather than the tool. That's why he mentioned the kanban is just a tool. He tried to give the strong message about the concept of the production. His biggest contribution was SMED, Single Minute Exchange of Die.

The naming is me, but the content is his. [laughs] Once he learned the concept of his thinking, many, many people was successful, I heard, to reduce the inventory volume, reduce the lead time, and that gave a very big contribution. If you learn the concept, then application is yours.

He didn't know what you're doing at Gemba. Me, same. I don't know any Gemba of yours. Once you have learned the concept, you can apply the concept to your Gemba. It's very important that you understand the concept. Then application is yours. That is my thinking.

Mark: When your father or when you talk about the deeper concepts, is it important to think of how kanban fits into the broader Toyota production system, or what do you mean by the deeper concepts?

Ritsuo: When I talk about concept, it's a basic thinking, like many things, like thorough elimination of waste. It's a big issue. Toyota was doing always reduction of cost, elimination of waste, and continuous improvement, and the problem-solving. The kanban was working to reduce the inventory because of the timing.

Just-in-time was a basic concept of TPS, but the kanban is the tool to realize that just-in-time. Just-in-time is the only necessary products, necessary volume, necessary timing. That means if you don't need to supply to Toyota, you don't. The Toyota requests only products, and volume, and the timing, then both Toyota and supplier can reduce inventory. Supplier don't carry any inventory.

There was a big misunderstanding in the Western world that Toyota was enjoying just-in-time, but not the suppliers. They should keep big, big, huge inventory to enable just-in-time, but they don't.

Why? Because as soon as they produce, they can ship to Toyota. That is frequent delivery. They don't need to keep inventory. Whenever Toyota requests to produce, that means Toyota are sure to receive so that the suppliers don't need to keep any huge, excessive inventory. That kind of thing.

TPS, when I was asked, “What is TPS? How to explain the TPS to the person who don't know at all about TPS?” I was asked by Paul Akers. [laughs] Very famous person. He gave me a very difficult question, “How do you explain?” I told, “It's a very tough question. OK, my understanding is it's accumulation of small improvements, so lot of improvements.”

Toyota made a lot of improvements. Still, that improvements is going on. The plant, when I joined the Toyota Motor in 1970, is not the plant right now. It's a big difference. Why? Because Toyota has been changing, are flexible, changing, continuous improvement. Many factors are there to be successful for Toyota.

Mark: You mentioned the idea that just-in-time requires frequent delivery. When I lived in San Antonio, Toyota built a factory in San Antonio. They, of course, have many suppliers directly around the factory or connected to the factory, because Texas did not have suppliers local.

To me, that represents just-in-time. I would propose another common misunderstanding in the West is that people in newspaper, newspaper writers, blame just-in-time when a boat gets stuck sideways in the Suez Canal. They say, “See, just-in-time doesn't work.

If there is a very slow boat going through the Suez Canal, to me, that's not frequent deliveries. That's not just-in-time. It seems very incorrect to blame just-in-time. If the companies were doing just-in-time, they wouldn't have to worry about a boat getting stuck in the Canal. What do you think?

Ritsuo: To enable something like just-in-time, you need to do many things. Even if you supply just-in-time, like Toyota, if there's no quality, what happened? No meaning. Many things support to enable the concept.

The Canal problem, same. It's a delivery shipment. If there's an accident, then it doesn't work. For sure, it doesn't work. What we should do is always keep flow of the products from supply, from everything, should be kept, maintained.

Suppose the Canal problem, if we clean all rocks beforehand so that no problem happen, that is something we should do, so never problem happened. To make it happen, we need a lot of effort. We need to do a lot of things to make it happen. Without that, TPS doesn't work at all.

Abnormal condition, it's very difficult to let the TPS happen. How we should make it normal condition? That is lot of effort, or preparation, effort. Otherwise, it doesn't work.

Mark: This was a long time ago as well, but when you started in China, did you and Toyota develop local suppliers?

Ritsuo: Yeah.

Mark: That seems to be a very important element of just-in-time.

Ritsuo: Yeah. Local supplier, of course, it is extremely difficult to develop local supplier. Even in China, wherever we place the plant, we try to buy locally. Locally means as close as possible to the plant.

Is it possible to buy from the local Chinese suppliers? Almost impossible, very difficult. That happened in the United States, that happened in Europe, that happened in Japan, same. All this, we should keep the suppliers better.

To do that, we should have a close relationship and we should select the suppliers who are cooperative. Otherwise, if they don't listen to us, we cannot help. We try to send the people, or try to have a very close communication, we try to establish win-win situation.

If the quality level of the supplier is not so high, in China that is the case, not so high, then, in the end, product's quality is not stable at all. We try to make the product, the cost, it's not like the cost in Japan, no, but so-so quality. [laughs]

So-so is OK. Why? The competitor's minibus is not so-so. [laughs] Toyota's so-so quality is a little bit higher than other people. We try to achieve better quality than competitors.

We train the suppliers and also try to receive the parts from suppliers. It's so-so quality. We try to train the workers, which our competitor didn't do that. We try to train our workforce, try to train the people. They have learned. We try to do our all best effort.

Then I came to conclusion that there is no workers problem. Wherever you go. In China, we made it. Workforce did a good job. Wherever you are. You are in Mexico. You are US. Even if you are China, Vietnam, wherever you go, there's no workforce, no workers problem.

All this, if there is a problem, it is the management problem. If management people said, “Blame the people,” plant manager…quite often I heard the plant manager blame people. “Oh, they are not good. They don't listen. Even they have learned, they forget. Very poor, very spoiled. No good workers.” I told that plant manager, “Oh, you sounds like you are escaping from your responsibility.”

It is your responsibility to educate, train the people, and communicate with them, and pull out their talent, develop their ability so that they can make contribution to any activity. It is not simple, but it is like an orchestra harmony. Everybody should play their role and try to be better for the benefit of their company.

That is the only way you can survive. Without the company continuous or sustainable situation, we lose job. If company fell down, then what happen? We lose job. It is quite natural. Management and the workforce, both make effort to keep competitiveness. That is very important.

Mark: Thank you. Thank you for sharing those thoughts, Mr. Shingo. One question I had going back to earlier. You said SMED was your father's concept, but the English words and the acronym SMED, that was your creation when you translated the book. Is that correct?

Ritsuo: Exactly speaking, I didn't create at all. [laughs] I was wondering what is the Single Minutes Exchange of Die? It's written in Japanese.

Mark: How do you say it? How do you say in Japanese?

Ritsuo: Single dandori. Dandori means the change of tool. I asked my father, why you called it single? It is in Japanese, Shinguru dandori. Shinguru dandori.

He explained to me, he learned how to play golf after 60 years old. He learned for amateur player, a single player, a single handicap is great, less than 10. He likes it.

Let's take that name to the quick change. Physically it doesn't mean within 10 seconds. No. What he meant was make it quicker. Quick change of die. Quick. To show the quickness, he liked to use single handicap.

After listening to his explanation, OK, if so we make it, I translate it, Single Minute Exchange of Die. That is SMED. I propose Single Minute Exchange of Die. He agreed. That's how we try to use SMED. Some American people told me it is not a good English as a grammar. It should be single-digit something.

Mark: Single-digit, yes.

Ritsuo: I answered, “Oh, too late already.” [laughs] I translate it Single Minute Exchange of Die. Single-digit? Can we say SDED? No, no, wait. SMED.

Mark: No. [laughs]

Ritsuo: Actually, Ken Snyder, director of the Shingo Institute called me, “Oh, Shingo some, there was something wrong.” I told him, “Too late. Too late.” Already everybody in the world is using the term SMED. It's just a name. At that time when I translated SMED, I didn't know whether the people in the world use it or not.

When I was in China, even in China, they use the term SMED. They understand the meaning itself, they don't understand what to do. The meaning SMED, wherever you go, Europe, US, Mexico, everybody understand SMED. I didn't translate. I just proposed and discussed with my father, and he agreed that this is SMED.

Mark: I was fortunate to have good teachers, who taught me the idea of single minute meant maybe nine minutes or five minutes. [laughs] Often people hear single minute they think one minute, and it doesn't strictly mean that. Maybe that's a misunderstanding.

Ritsuo: No, no. That 10 minutes, 20 minutes, very quickly. The processing is important. Concept is important. How to reduce the changeover time to become a quick changeover, that is important. As a result, sometime it could be 10 minutes, sometime it could be 20 minutes. It's OK. From three hours, four hours, to ten minutes. It makes a big, big difference.

Mark: Yes.

Ritsuo: At Toyota Motor, the changeover time of the stamping press mold used to be four hours. Mr. Ohno requested the TPS people to reduce in half, two hours. They couldn't do that.

That's why they requested my father to do that, to help them. He did it. Then again, Mr. T Ohno was informed that they reduce it two hours, but in half. Mr. T Ohno requested them again, “TPS people, please reduce it to half an hour or 20 minutes.” They couldn't do that.

How come they couldn't reduce from four hours to two hours? How come they could reduce to two hours to a half an hour or 20 minutes? They couldn't. My father was requested to help again. At that time, he mentioned to me he wrote the concept-thinking thought, like a flash into his brain.

He mentioned, and he wrote all concept. That is what we called the Single Minute Exchange of Dies, SMED, system. That's how he made it. That is SMED.

Mark: The one part of the story that was new to me from reading your book was the golf origins. I did not think of it like a golf handicap, but I do want to say congratulations. I'm sure the Japanese people are happy about Hideki Matsuyama winning the Masters yesterday.

Ritsuo: [laughs] I was watching. It's great.

Mark: Great accomplishment. One other question I'd like to ask you, Mr. Shingo. You talked about TPS, meaning an organizational fitness to adapt. That's a very interesting concept. I was wondering if you could talk about that, please.

Ritsuo: People are quite often talking about culture. Even Shingo Institute add the culture factor in center. In the past, there was no culture factor. Culture became very important. The Shingo Institute set the culture factor in the center. I realized culture. There was a book written about the Toyota culture.

Unfortunately, nobody told me what is Toyota culture. [laughs] Toyota culture, what was that? I didn't learn what is Toyota culture. I was thinking, what is Toyota culture? Right now, my thinking is it is related to people. Toyota Motor didn't have any Toyota culture. It is still Toyota people have culture.

That is all at once we change all people to the new comer. Where's the Toyota culture go? Where Toyota culture is, it's gone. Again, we should build once again Toyota culture. That's the people. How's the culture? A machine has a culture? A robot has a culture? No, it's the people.

I was thinking recently, many many TPS concept is related to people — like visual control, visualize. Is that related to machine? No, it is related to people. Visualize. People watch. The standard, standardization, standard, is it for machine, robots? No, the showing standard means for people. Problem-solving, people. Continuous improvement, people.

Many, many factors of TPS is related people. Quite often, I'm asked. What happened? All automation is done, and nobody there.

Mark: [laughs]

Ritsuo: What happened? Is that the best plant? I said no. Without people, where's the happiness of the people? If everybody lost the job, is it happy situation? No. Toyota try to adapt to many people and try to improve them. The people is key.

Always, what we tell is the Monozukuri is the manufacturing something. Hitozukuri means building people. Building products means building people. That is the concept of Toyota thinking.

Total participation is again people. Without people, nothing happened. Sustainability, that is related to people. Not everything, but most of the concept we are doing is for the people. People is a key.

Mark: When you said the organizational ability to adapt, that's really the people's ability to adapt?

Ritsuo: Yes, people. When I talk about people, how they are motivated, that is very important. Motivation did not come from the order, request from the top management. No, it's not the order. Motivation comes from the ownership of the workers.

What I felt when I was doing some training course in some company, always, I request the plant people [front line workers or team members] to join the meeting. Of course, they are not the member of the trainee participants. All managers, supervisor, or the member or top management.

They are very pleased to be invited to the meeting and talk about the improvement activity. They're so happy. They quite often told me, told at the conference, nobody at this company did ask the workers to join the meeting and ask for their opinion. Nobody in the past. Today, they were so happy to be here.

At the same time, I request them to explain to everybody what they have discussed. I didn't ask the participant to explain, no. Each operators, workers to explain what they have discussed, what is the improvement activity.

They're so pleased. I realized oh, ownership is very important. To have ownership, they should join, join the activity, participate in the activity. Otherwise, if they're doing only what they are told to do, there's no ownership, no motivation.

If they are invited to join the activity, then there's an ownership. If there's an ownership, there could be sustainability because they own. They create. They join, participate in the activity for improvement. Then, once they set up certain standard or some improvement, then they can do it.

If they didn't join, there's no ownership, so very difficult to realize sustainability. That is my thinking. It's a people.

Mark: It's very well said. When we talk about fitness and adaptation, in this past year with the pandemic, Toyota, I believe, was the only auto maker that made a profit during the pandemic. Recently, there have been semiconductor chip shortages that had affected other automakers, except I believe Toyota was least impacted by that. What do you think are some of the secrets of what Toyota — I don't know if it's secret — how is Toyota managing to be a successful in these challenging pandemic times? What do you think?

Ritsuo: I was very surprised when I learned the information that only Toyota among all worldwide good carmaker, only Toyota became the company to be profitable. Why only Toyota? [laughs] I was very surprised. I was thinking, “That is maybe we are doing the essential thing, the concept.” That's only reason.

We are always doing improvement activity. We are always doing elimination of waste. We are always doing cost reduction. Always doing. Without cost reduction, we cannot survive. If you manage your company with a lot of waste, then this situation, you cannot earn the profit. Toyota Motor always try to be healthy. Healthy means try to reduce the cost.

Quite often in the past, the journalists misunderstood price cutting and cost reduction. Nissan Motors top management used to be said the other cost cutter. I thought, “They don't understand.” Journalists didn't understand. It's not a cost cutting. What he was doing is price cutting. When he tried to level up the Nissan Motor situation, he said someone who gave them the lower price level, please raise your hand. You can survive. You can continue to be a supplier. If those suppliers who are not able to reduce the price, they should go away.

A lot of suppliers went away, but Toyota did not do that. It turned out always was doing cost reduction, not the price-cutting. Cost reduction is done through the joint effort. Toyota tried to help the supplier be healthy who have never take up all profit from the improvement. No. Toyota helped, and we shared the profit.

That's how we try to survive. It is a win-win situation. In this kind of a very bad situation, supplier try to reduce cost, and Toyota also try to reduce cost. Without the reduction of cost, we could not survive. We could not get any profit at all. Toyota could get the profit because of cost-reduction activity with the big help of the suppliers, that win-win situation.

Other company, if they don't do that, then they could not get any profit at all. That makes difference. That was my understanding. Toyota was doing the original concept. Stick to the concept, be healthy, reduction of cost, continuous improvement, just doing what we have done in the past. We are doing now. Just continuously. That is only reason we could be profitable.

Mark: Cooperation and partnership.

Ritsuo: Yes, win-win.

Mark: Win-win, yes. When you say win-win, that reminds me of the late Stephen Covey who was associated with the Shingo Institute in Utah State University. Stephen Covey talked about the need to find win-win.

Ritsuo: Good.

Mark: There's an article that I read recently that talks about how Toyota had a stockpile of semiconductor chips. Some people commented that Toyota has gotten away from just-in-time. It seems like the situation with the chips was very a unique situation. Some have said Toyota anticipated the shortages and decided that inventory, in this case, was appropriate or necessary.

Ritsuo: Oh, really?

Mark: I'll send you that article. I'll put a link for the listener in the show notes. I think you paint a clear picture of the difference between demanding a lower price. You mentioned Nissan, Carlos Ghosn…

[crosstalk]

Ritsuo: That's right. That person, he made a very big mistake.

Mark: He made a number of big mistakes. There was a man, Spanish executive, named Lopez who worked for General Motors and Volkswagen who was famous for just demanding lower price.

Another company that very recently does a similar thing is Tesla. They go to suppliers. They demand lower price, and you need to pay us back. They demand retroactive price reduction which can be very frustrating to suppliers.

Ritsuo: That's right. No good. [laughs] Oh, really?

Mark: Yeah. When you talk about the idea of, “Is a completely automated factory the best factory?” No. Again, it's an interesting comparison. Elon Musk at Tesla has dreamed of a completely automated factory. It's a different vision about running a factory and running a business. It's very different than Toyota.

Ritsuo: It's a big difference.

Mark: One reason that you and I had an opportunity to meet originally — I found a picture I'll show you after we record — was because of our friend Norman Bodek. Norman, of course, passed away recently. I was wondering if you had a favorite story about Norman that you could share with us.

Ritsuo: [laughs] We had a very long relationship. It's through my father. Not directly, but through my father. In my understanding, he made a lot of effort to widen my father's opportunity. Open the window to the US companies and introduce him to the US companies.

That's why my father made a good job for the improvement activity. That is why the Utah State University gave my father the honorary doctorate degree. That is the start.

When he returned his given award money — I heard $5,000 — to the Utah State University, mentioning the Utah State University should have an organization who might continuously make improvement activity in the US, which was lacking, he thought. He proposed.

Utah State University proposed to let them use the name of Shingo. Then my father said, “Yes, OK, go ahead.” Then after that, Utah State University very kindly keep doing the improvement activity at the Shingo Institute. That activity Norman Bodek, Norman-san , was involved in, what I heard.

He made a very key role activity with my father. My private relationship is when I was in the United States…It's quite a long time ago. I forgot when. He kindly invited me to his house in the United States. He made me a pancake [laughs] for the breakfast. That was so nice.

He mentioned to me that that was his responsibility, to make pancake in the morning as a breakfast. He made it. I tasted, very good. Still, I remember his pancake. After that, we went together to the local Chinese restaurant. I found out he's a vegetarian. [laughs]

He's a very unique person. He had a meditation room, like a Buddhism. He said he was doing meditation every day. When I was taken to his office, there was four or five monitors. It's 20 or 30 years ago.

He told me, “I had a very close communication with everybody.” Whether you want to see through the screen, he can do it. It's a long time ago, not now. [laughs] He handled a lot of equipment and tried to establish a good communication with the people. That was amazing.

Mark: Norman loved teaching through Zoom. I first learned of Zoom because of Norman some years ago.

Ritsuo: Oh, really? [laughs]

Mark: Yes. Maybe one other question I'd like to ask you. You talk about electronic communication. I know you prefer to go to the Gemba. You're teaching a virtual class on leadership that starts Thursday this week, April 15th.

Ritsuo: Oh, really? Yeah, that's right.

Mark: [laughs]

Ritsuo: With Nihat-san .

Mark: That's been organized through an organization Norman was involved in, the NK Institute of Human Advancement. Can you share a few thoughts, Mr. Shingo, on the workshop, what people will learn about leadership, leadership skills, and management?

Ritsuo: What I can do is tell my experience and how those experience, I'm going to explain, will be used for the European people, American people. I'm just going to tell what I have learned. What I can say is it's not the total way. No, not at all. It's my way.

My experience in China is not someone else experience in China, even to other people. They have no experience. Only me. My own experience. Whether my experience works or not, it worked when I was in China. I don't know whether it work right now or not. Anyway, it works.

There was a lot of things I have done through the China experience. I have experienced quite a lot of things quite new for me and new to Toyota. That was very good.

I tried to be the friend to the Chinese people and work together and let them understand I'm not the enemy. No. [laughs] I'm a friend. Actually, I loved my people in Chengdu. That kind of good friendship is a key.

Human relationship is a key. Never give up. Yong bu fangqi. [laughs] Always I'm telling people, “Never give up.” Once you give up, nothing happen, so never give up.

Never give up means once you set up the certain target, objective, there are a lot of obstacles try to prevent anything happen for me, but I never give up. That kind of thing, it's not TPS to be successful. It is never-give-up spirit. That is very important.

Always I negotiated. I negotiated with the city government, central government, always negotiation. Why? Because always the officer first told me, “No. No, not possible. No, you cannot do that.” Whenever I request something, the answer start with “No.”

When you listen to no, you give it up, nothing happen. Always I tell the people, “Once you are told no and you come back, that is not a negotiation. Once you heard no from the officer, then try to persuade them.” I did it. 99 percent, I was successful [laughs] to persuade what I believed should happen. I persuaded it. That is basically never give up.

Mark: I'm glad you have an opportunity to share those experiences, Mr. Shingo. The workshop, the information online gives an outline and talks about what will be covered in the workshop. I'm told there are still a few seats remaining if anybody wants to register and join at the last minute. I will put a link in the…

Ritsuo: Should I apply?

[laughter]

Ritsuo: Any other question?

Mark: No, I think that's all the questions I have. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today. I'm very honored that you could be a guest on the podcast. The podcast is something Norman helped me get started, so he would be very pleased that you're a guest here today.

Ritsuo: You're welcome. I'm very pleased. I'm honored and pleased to join.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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