The Shingo standard is, by design, the most rigorous in the world. We believe Dr. Shingo would only want to associate his name with the very best. Applicants for recognition are held to an identical standard no matter where they are located in the world.
Our standard has not always been so high. For 18 years the Shingo Institute evaluated organizations by noting their application of lean tools, the quality of their lean program deployment and, to some degree, the engagement of their management teams. This process consistently resulted in eight to 10 organizations receiving the Shingo Prize each year. All was fine until we realized that it wasn’t.
We began to see small signs of fracture along the edges. Critics of our selection process began to emerge in blogs and websites and eventually began to confront us directly. There is an adage that states, “Your best friends are the ones that tell you the truth, even when it is hard to hear.” Fortunately, we had very good friends in the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). They told us they were beginning to lose confidence in recommending, carte blanche, our recipients as benchmarking sites for their members. As much as this hurt, it forced us to begin a deep and earnest assessment of our past recipients; specifically, which ones had sustained their improvements and which ones had lost ground.
Our findings were alarming!
We learned that even the best of the best had an extremely difficult time sustaining the gains we had observed during their assessments. Furthermore, we discovered that our assessment criteria had two major flaws: (1) our standard for what excellence looked like was based too much on outward appearance and not enough on the deeply embedded culture of the organization, and (2) we did not know how to accurately evaluate and measure the truth regarding an organization’s culture. Our insights sparked a yearlong study to determine what did and did not work in sustaining improvement efforts and to understand the reasons behind success or failure. At the same time, we began to dig back through all of Dr. Shingo’s books to see if we could discover what it was that we were missing. To our surprise and delight, working from either end and toward the middle, we arrived at a unanimous conclusion. The difference between successful and unsuccessful efforts was always in the organizations’ ability to get past the tools, events and programs and to
align management systems with principles. When such alignment took place, ideal behaviors followed and perpetuated a deep culture of operational excellence.
Based on our findings, we developed the Shingo Model. This framework has become the basis for everything we do.