The Pioneers of Kaizen
The present Kaizen / Continuous Improvement methodologies are the innovations, contributions and evolution of many pioneering thinkers and leaders over the last 2 centuries. Some of the most prominent are as follows:
1. Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856 – March 21, 1915) was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. Taylor is regarded as the father of scientific management, and was one of the first management consultants. His pioneering work in applying engineering principles to the work done on the factory floor was instrumental in the creation and development of the branch of engineering that is now known as industrial engineering.
Key contributions of Frederick Taylor include scientific management, systematic observation and study, time and motion study, standardization of methods. These concepts set the foundation for the later development of Continuous Improvement Concepts such as productivity, Gemba, standardized work, motion waste, non-value added activities.
2. Walter Andrew Shewhart ( March 18, 1891 – March 11, 1967) was an American physicist, engineer and statistician, sometimes known as the father of statistical quality control and the Shewhart cycle (also known as PDCA ( Plan Do Check Act) Cycle).
Although Shewhart did not work directly with the Japanese on the development of Kaizen or Toyota Production System, his work had great impact and contribution through William Edwards Deming.
Shewhart and Deming had collaborated closely during World War II to develop productivity programmes. Deming developed some of Shewhart’s methodological proposals around scientific inference and named it the Shewhart cycle, and pioneered the ideas in Japan from 1950 onwards.
Key contributions of Shewhart include statistical process control (SPC), Shewhart’s techniques, PDCA ( Plan Do Check Act) Cycle.
3. William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 – December 20, 1993) was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. Deming is best known for his work in helping the Japanese industry to rebuild after WWII. Deming has been credited as the key driver for what has become known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle of 1950 to 1960, when Japan rose from the ashes of war to become one of the largest economies in the world. Deming was well respected in Japan as for his contribution to Japan’s reputation for innovative, high-quality products, and for its economic achievement.
Key contributions of Deming include Shewhart’s techniques, PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) Cycle, statistical process control (SPC) and concepts of quality. He managed to convince the Japanese industry leaders that improving quality would reduce expenses while increasing productivity and market share.
4. Eiji Toyoda (豊田 英二 12 September 1913 – 17 September 2013) was a Japanese industrialist and the President (and later Chairman) of Toyota Motor Corporation. He was the considered the chief architect of the Toyota Production System, and the key person to bring Toyota to profitability and global prominence.
Key contributions of Eiji Toyoda to the Toyota Production System include the adoption, adaptation and improvement of Ford Production System (mass production) and Kaizen concept (as taught by USA ESS Group) into Toyota Production System (Just In Time production) to suit the requirements of Toyota (minimum resources available in comparison to Ford’s vast resources at that point in time), Kanban.
5. Taiichi Ohno (大野耐一 , February 29, 1912 – May 28, 1990) was a Japanese industrial engineer. He is considered to be the father of the Toyota Production System.
Key contributions of Taiichi Ohno to the Toyota Production System are the development of Just In Time (JIT) and the “Seven Wastes” concept in which wastes are categorized for systematic identification and elimination. These wastes are:
(Acronym : TIMWOOD)
In the recent years, an additional waste has been added. The 8th waste is “Unused Human Intellect “.
6. Shigeo Shingo (新郷重夫 , 1909 – 1990 ) , a Japanese industrial engineer, is considered as the world’s leading expert on manufacturing practices and another key developer of the Toyota Production System. He was an external consultant hired by Toyota to improve factory management and teach Industrial engineering courses to Toyota employees.
The key contributions of Shigeo Shingo to the Toyota Production System are the mistake-proofing (Poka-yoke), single-minute exchange of dies (SMED ) , and “zero quality control” (eliminating the need for inspection of results) concepts.