In 1979, after working for 18 years with Data Processing companies, Norman Bodek started Productivity Inc. – Press by publishing a newsletter called PRODUCTIVITY. At the time, he said he knew virtually nothing about the subject and had spent very little time in manufacturing facilities. But, he quickly became fascinated with the subject and went to Japan to discover the processes that was making Japan the world leaders in quality improvement and productivity growth.
Even though on his first visit to Japan he didn’t know a single person or speak Japanese, he has since, in the last 32 years, gone to Japan 81 times, visited more than 250 plants and published more than 100 Japanese management books in English. As a fortune cookie once told him, “You have the talent to discover the talent in others.”
Mr. Bodek says his claim to fame is that he found amazing tools, techniques and new thoughts that have revolutionized the world of manufacturing. He has met Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Dr. Joseph Juran, Phil Crosby, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Dr. Joji Akao, Mr. Taiichi Ohno, Dr. Shigeo Shingo and many other great manufacturing masters and published many of their books in English.
Each person he met gave him a new perspective on continuous improvement. Mr. Bodek has lead over 25 study missions to Japan and was one of the first to find and publish books, training materials and run conferences and seminars on TPS, SMED, CEDAC, quality control circles, 5 S, visual factory, TPM, VSM, Kaizen Blitz, cell design, poka-yoke, lean accounting, Andon, Hoshin Kanri, Kanban, Quick and Easy Kaizen, and the Harada Method.
Mr. Bodek, who was once called “Mr. Productivity” by Industry Week Magazine and “Mr. Lean” by Quality Progress Magazine, 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.
He worked with Gulfstream Corporation, a private jet company, where 1000 people went from 16-implemented ideas in February 2005 to close to 40,000 in 2012 resulting each year in annually savings of over $2 million.
Why every company in America is not doing this is a mystery? Mr. Bodek founded the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence at Utah State University with Dr. Vern Buehler and is one of the few to be personally awarded the Shingo Prize.
In the last 10 years, he has written hundreds of articles published in various magazines and journals and on management web sites. He has written severeal books: “The Idea Generator – Quick and Easy Kaizen and How to Do Kaizen,” both co-authored with Bunji Tozawa, president of the HR Association in Japan, “Kaikaku the Power and Magic of Lean,” Rebirth of American Industry, co-authored with William Waddell, “All You Gotta Do Is Ask”, co-authored with Chuck Yorke and “The Harada Method,” co-authored with Takashi Harada.