Matt Hrivnak

Kaizen: There's always another future state

Shigeo Shingo (1909 – 1990) was an Industrial Engineer who worked as a consultant with a number of companies before finally being brought in to further develop the Toyota Production System.  His most notable contributions and accomplishments include SMED (quick changeovers), Standard[ized] Work and methods of error-proofing.  Shigeo Shingo quotes are some of the greatest lean quotes because of their simplistic nature and ability to transcend any time period.

These are some of the most famous Shigeo Shingo quotes:

“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.” – Shigeo Shingo

“When you buy bananas all you want is the fruit not the skin, but you have to pay for the skin also. It is a waste. And you the customer should not have to pay for the waste.” – Shigeo Shingo

“A relentless barrage of ‘why’s’ is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo.  Use it often.” – Shigeo Shingo

“Improvement usually means doing something that we have never done before.” – Shigeo Shingo

“The best approach is to dig out and eliminate problems where they are assumed not to exist.” – Shigeo Shingo

“Are you too busy for improvement? Frequently, I am rebuffed by people who say they are too busy and have no time for such activities. I make it a point to respond by telling people, look, you’ll stop being busy either when you die or when the company goes bankrupt.” – Shigeo Shingo


Again, with any of the lean quotes I present, I try to be as accurate as possible.  When it comes to Shigeo Shingo quotes it is always hard to tell how accurate they are and if the translation reported even matches the saying as it would have appeared in Japanese.  If you see any discrepancies, please email me.

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