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What Does The Shingo Prize Mean, And Why Is It Still Relevant Today?

Updated: Jan 4

You’ve probably heard of the Shingo Prize, but are you aware of its significance to your business?

Given the rate of change in the manufacturing industry these last few years – with hybrid working becoming a mainstay, e-commerce soaring, digitalisation taking over, and the cost of raw materials spiralling, the Shingo journey is now more important than ever.

George Donaldson, our Leadership and Enterprise Excellence Coach, led Newsprinters Eurocentral Ltd along with Ross McCombe and the then leadership team to be awarded the Shingo Prize – the first and still only organisation in the UK to do so and the only newspaper manufacturer in the world. In this blog, we outline why it’s still key for manufacturing businesses today, and how the journey towards it can help you resolve the challenges the industry presents.

Building trust and changing systems

The Shingo Prize is recognised as the world’s highest standard for Organisational Excellence. To be awarded the Shingo Prize (or at least be considered for it), you might need to drastically overhaul your organisation to create a culture that will achieve world-class results.

Before embarking on their journey, Newsprinters had a typical ‘hierarchal’ or ‘command and control’ culture seen in many manufacturers. The issue is that it doesn’t breed a safe environment for people to come forward with ideas that drive innovation and continuous improvement. Over the years, we developed a managerial coaching and trusting culture. It took a long time, but eventually, people became more autonomous once management learned to let go.

As they worked towards the Shingo Prize, they changed their systems and ways of working. These are often wrong and drive incorrect behaviours – like shifting the problem around rather than resolving it. Organisations usually try to improve parts of their business taken separately. Still, it’s vital to take a systemic look at the organisation as a whole to truly be able to create sustained change.

Breeding a culture of high performance

Ultimately, the Shingo Model is a framework for improvement – it’s not prescriptive; you can adapt it and it provides opportunities to expand thinking. This is what working towards Shingo recognition did for Newsprinters.

Instead of the standard celebration where leadership goes on a big night after a win, the employees received the recognition as they’ve been such a crucial part of the organisation’s achievements – such as improved effectiveness, reduced waste, and sustained excellence. When people get the opportunity to achieve something, they perform better. Winning – with better retention and higher productivity – breeds more winning and success.

Newsprinters went on to win many awards since their Shingo recognition. It’s all down to the work and high performance of their employees. We’re a big believer in CI being everyone’s job – and a growth mindset should be part of everyone’s routine. It’s non-negotiable, and it must be part of your business’ culture.

Making the right decisions

Journeying to the Shingo Prize presents many opportunities, like the chance to review CI and listen to employee input.

It helps to align leaders, managers and employees to the organisation's purpose, vision, values, aims and goals – everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Working towards the Shingo Prize allows you to re-evaluate what you need in your business – and realise that change always starts at the top. If those at the top aren’t willing to adapt, there’s little hope. The Shingo journey is about realising difficult decisions need to be made – but it’s important to follow through on them for the good of the company.

Following guiding principles

Shingo Model & Guiding Principles
Shingo Model & Guiding Principles

The Shingo Model has many guiding principles. The two most important to us are ‘leading with humility’ and ‘respect for every individual’.

Most leaders today are promoted into their leadership roles because of technical ability rather than leadership qualities. Remaining humble is a key characteristic. Even if leaders know the answer, they should step back, ask questions, and allow the team to discover the answers themselves.

As for respecting every individual, listening to people and making them feel more valued and respected means you’ll get a lot more in return – like the development and expansion of the workforce.

These two principles, amongst others, are crucial in a business – and so that’s why the Shingo Prize is still very relevant today. They enable CI and help to achieve Organisational Excellence.

Introduction to Shingo Webinar

Below is an introduction to Shingo Webinar that our Associate Director of Practitioner Services delivered on the 16th June 2023.

Speak to Manufacturers Network

Curious as to how you’ll benefit from the Shingo model? Discover the Shingo workshops and programmes currently running, as well as other courses from the Manufacturers Network. You can also get in touch with us to discuss your organisation’s education needs.


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