This now serves as a blog to collect some of the comments I make on other blogs related to management improvement (Deming, lean thinking, six sigma, leadership, systems thinking, respect for people...).
Read my main management blog: Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
However, "the best manufacturing thinkers of the last several decades" are Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo, contends Mercer's Slywotzky. Ohno was a Toyota Motor Co. vice president and Shingo a consultant. In laying out the principles now often collected under the label "lean," they challenged the prevailing notion that manufacturing had to be done on a large scale with long runs and large inventories. They challenged the notion that quality control was something done at the end of the production line. And they challenged the notion that a production line keeps running no matter what. "What they introduced went 100% against the grain and the mindset of great manufacturers of that time, both inside Japan and outside Japan," Slywotzky stresses. The famed Toyota Production System, which emphasizes reducing waste and eliminating defects, is a product of their work. Its impact can be seen at Toyota, the "hundreds of Toyota suppliers" and "the hundreds of companies in the West that, with a 10- or 15-year lag, sometimes a 20-year lag, began to rethink and change their manufacturing," Slywotzky says.