by Dominic Bria
A few months ago, I had a fellow from a New Hampshire company tell me about a question an employee asked him about the Shingo Model™. He is the business improvement manager at his organization, and they are working toward challenging for the Shingo Prize. An employee asked him why the Shingo Prize is the standard toward which they chose to aspire.
I suspect there are many others who get this question from associates who are unfamiliar with the Shingo Prize or the Shingo Model™, so I want to share with you the answer I gave.
Why hold the Shingo Prize as the standard to work toward? First, it’s important to understand that the Shingo Prize and the Shingo Model™ are all about building and maintaining a work culture that:
- Is about continuous improvement, even after the person who initiated it has moved on. It’s about sustainability. If continuous improvement is part of the culture rather than being seen as something extra to deal with, it eventually becomes self-sustaining. This type of culture is imperative because, if done properly, it ensures that value is being delivered to end customers on a continuing basis, even after personnel changes.
- Provides more secure jobs. Without customers who are pleased with what we deliver and the reliability with which we deliver it, we have no jobs.
- Is a healthy work environment. We all need to feel respected, appreciated, and empowered. Organizations that have made the Shingo Guiding Principles part of their culture are more likely to have employees who have feel valued. They feel good about coming to work and are engaged in finding ways to do things more easily, more efficiently, faster, safer, etc. When something goes wrong, they don’t worry about who gets blamed because the focus is on fixing the process, not laying blame. We consistently hear reports of lowered turnover rates and higher engagement once these principles are embraced.
Where does the Shingo Model™ come from? We began assessing companies for the Shingo Prize in 1988. After several years of assessment, we began to look back at the companies we’d awarded and found that, while some were able to sustain that level of excellence, others had quickly fallen off. Naturally, we began to study the differences in the companies that fell into each of those two categories. In short, the difference was how well the organization had made certain principles a part of its culture, as opposed to treating continuous improvement as an extra program, driven by one or two leaders who eventually moved on, to administer.
The result of that research was the Shingo Model™ and its Guiding Principles. To make it part of the culture takes time, persistence, and WORK. Once these principles begin to take hold as part of the onboarding experience and are taught to every new employee, the gains tend to reach an inflection point—a point where the benefits begin to become even more substantial and self-sustaining.
That is the point to which every organization on the “Shingo journey” aspires—the point at which the benefits of building toward the Shingo Model™ begin to become even more evident.