Taiichi Ohno

Taiichi Ohno is the single person most responsible for the Toyota Production System (the roots of lean maufacturing, lean thinking and Just in Time - JIT). Shigeo Shingo worked for him at Toyota.

"Having no problems is the biggest problem of all." Taiichi Ohno quote from Toyota's web site
Ohno saw a problem not as a negative, but in fact as "a kaizen opportunity in disguise." Whenever one cropped up, he used to encourage his staff to explore problems first-hand until their root causes were found. "Observe the production floor without preconceptions," he would advise. "Ask 'why' five times about every matter."
From Workplace Management:

Taiichi Ohno was born in Dalian, China on February 29, 1912. He joined Toyoda Boshoku in 1932 after graduating from the mechanical engineering department of Nagoya Technical High School.

He was transferred to Toyota Motor Company in 1943, and he was named as the machine shop manager in 1949. He was promoted at Toyota to director in 1954, managing director in 1964, senior managing director in 1970, and executive vice president in 1975.

Taiichi Ohno retired from Toyota in 1978. He died on May 28, 1990 in Toyota City, Japan.

Quotes by Taiichi Ohno

  • Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production by Taiichi Ohno, 1988. "Here's the first information ever published in Japan on the Toyota production system (known as Just-In-Time manufacturing). Here Ohno, who created JIT for Toyota, reveals the origins, daring innovations, and ceaseless evolution of the Toyota system."
  • Workplace Management by Taiichi Ohno 1982, translated by Jon Miller 2007. Excellent - highly recommended.
  • Management Lessons from Taiichi Ohno by Takehiko Harada 2015.