Norman Bodek is a teacher, consultant, author and publisher; he founded Productivity Press, and is President of PCS Press.
Described as the Godfather of Lean, he has published over 100 Japanese management books in English, including the works of Taiichi Ohno and Dr. Shigeo Shingo and taught the Best of Japanese management at Portland State University. Norman created the Shingo Prize with Dr. Vern Beuhler at Utah State University. He also was elected to Industry Week's Manufacturing Hall of Fame.
Norman's fascination with manufacturing led him to Japan and a lifelong exploration of the methods behind Japanese quality and productivity.
Over three decades, up until 2016, Bodek went to Japan 86 times, visited more than 250 plants and published over 250 management books.
Norman has found tools, techniques and new thoughts that have revolutionized the world of manufacturing. He met Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Dr. Joseph Juran, Phil Crosby, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Dr. Yoji Akao, Mr. Taiichi Ohno, Dr. Shigeo Shingo and other manufacturing masters and published many of their books in English. Each person he met gave him a new perspective on continuous improvement, and helped him to better understand links between the functional areas of the Toyota management system, and the value of Lean, Kaizen in achieving quality and continuous improvement.
Norman has led more than 25 study missions to Japan. He was one of the first to publish books and training materials on SMED, CEDAC, Quality Control Circles, 5S, and the Visual Factory Total Productive Maintenance, Value Stream Mapping, Kaizen and Kaizen Blitz, Cell Design, Poka-Yoke, Andon, Hoshin Kanri, and Kanban. Other books followed, on topics including total quality management.
Many of these topics form the building blocks of the Toyota Production System, which, in turn, is the basis for what came to be called Lean Manufacturing in America.
Norman has said his most powerful discovery was the way Toyota and other Japanese companies opened the infinite creative potential often lying dormant inside every single worker "When you unlock this hidden talent people become highly motivated and actually love to come to work," he said.
Since 1999 Bodek has focused on Toyota's second pillar "Respect for People, employee-development and employee-empowerment."
HARADA METHOD: THE HUMAN SIDE TO LEAN
The Harada Method is designed to teach people how to be great leaders, coaches, and to build a winning team.
On his 75th trip to Japan, Norman met Mr Takashi Harada, who Bodek believed has the ultimate recipe for competing against low-cost labour in China and India. By 2011 the Harada Method had become recognized as one of the most systematic ways to enhance employee development. Harada has been adopted by Kirin Brewery, Uniqlo (retail clothing), Nomura Securities (financial services), The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, and Chugai Pharmaceuticals.
Harada sees his method as the next step in the Lean journey. He believes it integrates easily with Six Sigma, Hoshin Planning, and other continuous improvement efforts, to give real substance to what
Toyota calls “respect for people.” Bodek claims employers can use Harada to embed continuous improvement in workplace culture.
The essence of the Harada Method is “self-reliance.” Self-reliance is the ability of each person to become so skilled at something that she or he is virtually irreplaceable. They become artisans in disciplines that serves their future and also the success of their organization. People are fully trusted to make responsible decisions for themselves and for the organization they work for. Shohei Otani, the MVP in Japanese professional baseball, used the Harada Method when he was a Sophomore in High School, setting his clear goal to be a great baseball player. Recent rumors are he is worth over $300 million when he joined the American Professional Baseball League in 2018.
In 2005, Norman won the Books and Monographs category of the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, a prize that awards companies worldwide that "achieve world-class operational excellence status," for his book, Kaikaku, The Power and Magic of Lean.
In 2010, he was inducted into Industry Week's Manufacturing Hall of Fame. The award recognized him as one of a team of "industrial superstars whose collective careers have had an immeasurable impact and influence on U.S. manufacturing."