Brief Investigation into the Origins of the Toyota Production System [the broken link was removed] by Art Smalley. Another excellent article by Art Smalley. Loaded with great historical information. I find these articles interesting on at least two levels. First there is great management information. Learning more about how the ideas we use now developed adds to my understanding. Second it is interesting historical information – I am not sure if it actually makes any difference in how I would manage but I just find it interesting.
There is some excitement over different views of how much credit Shingo should get versus Ohno (and such questions). I find the discussion interesting, but I don’t worry much about how much credit each deserves. I suppose that is partially my personality and particularly that I am not that connected with either of them. The debates about how much value Deming provided I get a bit more emotional.
With Deming I find when people don’t recognized his contributions they often missed much of what he talked about (so their understanding of for example innovation in Deming’s ideas were flawed which lead to less effective management by them). So I can see a justification for trying to argue that for example, Ohno’s contributions were more significant than is generally accepted. Based on that believe, looking more closely at Ohno’s ideas would make more sense.
Certainly our focus should be on improving our understanding of management. It seems to me the discussion has been beneficial thus far. I would also admit that this is probably of interest to a small sub set of those interested in lean manufacturing. That is fine. I do believe there is no benefit for discussions to degrade into negative attacks but when the discussion is mainly sharing views, information and ways of looking at the historical record I find it can be very interesting.