European Shingo Conference 2023 – Highlights

A highly successful European Shingo Conference 2023, organised by Shingo Institute in collaboration with ICBE, was held in Croke Park on Oct. 11th and 12th.


It was the coming together of the Shingo community, both Irish and International and the sharing of their knowledge and experience, with those new to Shingo, as well as those looking to progress further on their Shingo journey.

Over the two days, delegates enjoyed lively panel discussions, keynotes and speakers. The high level of energy, engagement and networking at the conference was noted by both delegates and speakers, with lots of learning and making new connections over the two days. In the afternoon of the second day, delegates had the opportunity to attend a benchmarking visit to one of five sites around Dublin, which was arranged by ICBE as part of the conference.


Here are just some of the highlights from the conference.

Panel Discussion; Embracing Shingo, Improving a Country, and More


Ken Snyder, Executive Director, Shingo Institute, Kieran Noonan, Chair, Irish Centre for Business Excellence, Sean Gayer, VP Operations, Boston Scientific Cork, Shane Geary, VP, Analog Devices, Roisin Mac Entee, Regional Lean Manager, Jabil Bray, Anton Savage, Moderator



The panel discussed the benefits for their organisations in adopting the Shingo model, lessons learned along the way, how to ensure that the benefits of Shingo are sustained in the long term and advice for anyone beginning their Shingo Journey.


Sean Gayer spoke about the benefits of identifying the driving purpose, the “North Star” for the organisation as part of their Shingo journey.
For Boston Scientific Cork, their driving purpose was growing the positive impact they make on people’s lives. He confirmed that the measure for positively impacting lives was 6 every minute in 2016 growing to 26 lives every minute in 2023. This is communicated with the entire organisation and drives the process, culture and ideal behaviours, which in turn drive ideal results.
Roisin Mac Entee spoke about the shift of mindset to reflection with Shingo, again with the focus on purpose. One of the results for Jabil Bray was that employee engagement moved from 67% to 89% in the two years they were going through their Shingo journey.
Engagement moved from 67% to 89% in the 2 years going for Shingo
Shane Geary described two key pillars for Analog Devices: Operational Excellence / Enterprise Excellence and New Products / Innovation.
For Analog, the Shingo Model and the focus on delivering on results through their people and culture, has worked well for them. They initially learned they were not as good as they thought we were from benchmarking and worked from there.
 “People and culture ultimately give you an advantage –never forget that culture is key, the tools are not the starting point”.

Advice for anyone beginning their Shingo Journey

Roisin Mac Entee emphasised the importance of firstly identifying what are the ideal results and then to work backwards to see ideal behaviours.
Sean Gayer spoke about the importance of being prepared to have open and honest discussions, to listen to feedback, address it and to focus on the identified purpose that the whole organisation can resonate with.


How do you sustain the process after the Shingo award is achieved?

Shane Geary stressed that the focus on challenging for the Shingo Prize motivates the organisation but the focus needs to be on the journey rather than the prize for the long term benefits to be sustained. The leader needs to re-energize the organisation again after the Shingo award to move forward with new site goals.
Roisin Mac Entee emphasised that you have it make it a habit. It is not sustainable just to get the Shingo award, it must be normality “just what we do”.



Panel Discussion: Digitalisation and the Shingo Model



Peter Hines, Shingo Faculty Fellow Kieran McSherry, Former Senior Director, Global Manufacturing & Projects Engineering, Johnson and Johnson Vision Joan Mulvihill, Digitalization & Sustainability Lead, Siemens Sean O’Hara, Site Director, Abbott Diabetes Care, Donegal Anton Savage, Radio and TV Personality, Moderator.



This panel discussed the Shingo model and industry 4.0 and 5.0. – the focus on the human side and the current challenges being faced.


Peter Hines described 5.0 as the addition of the people side, an attempt to correct mistakes that were made during 4.0, which only looked at technology.
He spoke about bringing tech together with the culture and systems of an organisation and the role of the Shingo Model.
Joan Mulvihill described the current challenges industry is facing with industry 5.0 – that there is an appetite for people to try and figure out where we are going with the advances in technology.
Human led but data driven is so essential - we have to ask the correct questions and we have to get smarter about our questions. Data is great for certain types of decision making but what gets measured often gets missed.  You have to be connected to the real challenges.
She discussed the different mindsets of engineers versus tech people and the challenge to get both to play their roles and work together.


Kieran McSherry spoke about the evolution of technology and what it means to people – that there are more complications now due to technology in relation to legal issues, data protection and it brings major challenges with the human interface.
He emphasized that the more technology and leadership are comfortable together the more successful the journey will be.
Sean O’Hara discussed how we can keep people engaged with technology. This comes in different forms, such as data visualization. How we visualize now using Power BI makes it real for the people on shop floor level.


Q. Responsibility of the organizations around 5.0 and the social side?


In answer to a question from the audience, the panel confirmed the massive responsibility on companies to help society, leverage government and to advise them what is involved in 5.0.   Organizations have to encourage upskilling and informing the external community.


They also spoke about the challenges faced around taking out the learning opportunity for people, for example people have to do the middle level roles to grow within an organization.   If these middle roles are taken away our people won’t learn.


How to Start Continuous Improvement if Your Organization Is Resistant to Change

Oliver Kozak, Senior Project Advisor, EU Commission on Innovation

Oliver delivered a highly entertaining presentation on driving CI within organisations that are resistant to change, describing both his failures and wins and how the Shingo Model  helped him overcome these challenges.


He explained that at the EU Commission there were no processes nor operating procedures and there was huge resistance to change that situation – “it felt like pushing water uphill - the more you push; the less it works “


10 Things I tried: 7 Fails & 3 wins

The Fails

1. Focus on senior management – this didn’t work as they were not interested – political, layers of people and just not focused on efficiency.

2. Cost saving objectives  - this also didn’t work as with a huge budget of €3.1 billion, which needs to be spent by the end of the year, savings were not important.
3.  Full Scale big Continuous Improvement (big change = bigger resistance)
4.  Focus on Middle Managers also didn’t work as they were too busy.
5.  Introduce Customer centricity – as they had very little interaction with the people impacted by their work, this was  also not a driver.
6.  Full days of training doesn’t work as people don’t bother to turn up – difficult to find time or they feel it is not  relevant to them.
7.  Big IT projects – doesn’t work as the bureaucracy creates too many hurdles.


The Wins

1.  Working with employees with very high workload / firefighting teams
"They want change – they are very stressed and couldn’t even take any summer holidays”
It is important to listen openly, build relationships and show them that change can happen which will benefit them.
2.  Pioneering managers & colleagues
Choose people that have a natural curiosity and that are happy to go against the system. Create a good connection and build based on results.
3.  Using a long series of small improvement projects, building trust and ensuring people’s own agendas were satisfied, Oliver got to achieve his agenda - CI.


Process Maturity Label

Fritz Perls (Gestalt Organisational Development) “Raising awareness creates change”



Oliver created Process Maturity Label to raise awareness & help people get started with CI. It makes it easier for people to identify where they are in the process and where they want to be. It shows people the journey and makes them think about it in a different way.


Enterprise Excellence and Our New Silk Road: The Middle Corridor that Integrates Georgia to the World

Julian Fernandez, Managing Director, APM Terminals Poti


Julian Fernandez shared his inspirational story of how the management team of their port operation in Georgia is applying the philosophy of Shingo Enterprise Excellence to transform the culture and seize the immense opportunity of growing Poti Port to become a hub for Central Asia trade, improving life for everyone in Poti & the region.  APM Terminals is owned by Maersk Group which has 75 ports around world.


They identified the big WHY for Poti Port is to act as catalyst for economic development in region. They concluded that the last piece of the puzzle to transform Poti Port was the Shingo Model. Poti Port is at the start of their Shingo journey but they have already seen results.

Objective 1: Turn vessels around as fast as possible

Objective 2: To become the gateway of choice to connect Georgia, the Caucasus & Central Asia with the world.

They started by identifying their potential. Poti Port serves as a gateway for international trade in Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan and is ideally located to become a hub for Central Asia trade.
Cultural Transformation
There were still disconnects between the leadership and people on the ground, who didn’t yet have a clear understanding of the purpose was of what they are doing. They ran a workshop for the top 3 layers of the organisation which identified;
  • What are the behaviours we don’t like? Some are linked directly our to core value
  • Shingo principles are already linked/interconnected to core values
  • New way of working
They identified the behaviours considered not ideal, such as lack of accountability, siloed thinking, not listening and lack of empathy and humility.

To make this future a reality, they needed to:

  • Overcome legacy culture behaviours within the organisation
  • Improve processes and systems thinking to ensure flawless, consistent service to customers
  • Gain confidence and trust with their local community
  • Influence key external stakeholders at a critical time in Poti’s history
 Critical Success Factors 
  • Ran a World Café session for 200 people X 4 days = all 800 employees
  • Gave everyone a voice in this transformation
  • 2,500 suggestions/improvement ideas
  • Needed to deploy purpose & Critical Success Factors to all
 Achievements to date
  • Joint efforts made it possible to reach high cargo volume levels
  • 226K in 2022 growing to 404K in 2023
  • Expansion of port has started – the aim is to double capacity
  • Poti is recognised as Terminal of the Year (in 75 APM Terminals)
  • Opened the door with the government
  • We share our success with the community


Thanks to everyone who made this such a successful conference


A special thanks to all the speakers and panelists who gave so much over the 2 days, not just during their presentations and discussions, but being available to delegates, sharing their advice and experience during networking sessions. A huge thanks also to the five companies who hosted benchmarking visits for delegates to attend as part of the conference. The visits provided valuable insights to all those who attended.