The Shingo Prize is named in honor of the late Dr. Shigeo Shingo. Dr. Shingo has been described as an "engineering genius" for his contributions to improving manufacturing processes. As one of the world's leading experts on manufacturing practices, he helped to create and document the renowned Toyota Production System. Many of his improvement principles, such as Single-Minute-Exchange-of-Die (Quick Changeover), Poka-Yoke (Mistake Proofing) and Non-Stock Production (minimum inventory) are described in six books published in the United States.
In 1988, Utah State University recognized Dr. Shingo for his lifetime of accomplishments and created the Shingo Prize to recognize world-class, lean organizations. The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence recognizes business excellence around the globe. The philosophy of the Shingo Prize is that world-class performance for quality, cost and delivery can be achieved through lean principles and techniques in core manufacturing and business processes. Business Week, May 15, 2000, stated that the Shingo Prize is, "…the Nobel prize of manufacturing…."
The Shingo Prize evaluation criteria is based on an overall lean business systems model. Masaaki Imai, Chair, Kaizen Institute, has noted that the Shingo Prize is the only award program in the world focused on lean manufacturing and the elimination of "muda." The model demands system integration based on proven lean manufacturing and business practices. The Shingo criteria focus on Customer Satisfaction and Profitability; Quality, Cost and Delivery; Lean Core Operations; and Leadership and Empowerment Enablers. A Board of Examiners consisting of over 175 lean leaders throughout North America, representing primarily former Shingo Prize recipient companies, carry out the rigorous process of evaluating the 100 page Achievement Report and the 2-3 day company Site Evaluation Visit.