Ritsuo Shingo (Photo by Steve Eaton)
Ritsuo Shingo said it was a plant that taught him what he knows about operational excellence.
The plant, as Ritsuo describes it, isn’t something that grows in the ground but, instead, the kind that comes with a factory floor where new automobiles are created.
“The plant tells me what to do,” he said, explaining that by careful observation and extensive experience he has learned many of the principles he applies in the workplace.
Ritsuo, the former president of Toyota China and Hino Motors China, agreed to share with the Huntsman Alumni Magazine some of the insight he gained as he has come up through the ranks in Toyota to leadership positions. His own father, Shigeo Shingo, is considered by many as one of the most brilliant leaders in operational excellence who ever lived. And yet, Ritsuo said most of what he has learned came from his own experience, not from the direct teachings of his father. In fact, he said he’s only read one of his father’s books.
Here are four principles Ritsuo shared with the Huntsman Alumni Magazine:
Some may wonder why U.S. automakers don’t try harder to duplicate Toyota’s success. Ritsuo explained that really understanding the basic principles of operational excellence takes time, and one can only learn from experience how to effectively apply those concepts.
“Imagine you have received a lot of tools as a gift,” he said. “Okay, these are fine tools. Can you fix an automobile? Can you fix a refrigerator? It’s one thing to have the tools; knowing how to use them, that’s a different story.”