A tribute to Dr. H. Shinto

Dr. H. Shinto died on 26 January 2003 at age 92. Although more than twenty years had elapsed since he was the chief executive of Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) of Japan, an IHI management cadre, both active and retired, is creating an on-line testimonial to the man they more often refer to as teacher rather than boss. In response to their request, I submitted the following:

I interviewed the late Dr. Hisashi Shinto twice, once in IHI’s Tokyo headquarters and, about a year later, after he gave a presentation for the October 1980 Shipbuilding Short Course at the University of Michigan. Both times he graciously answered my many questions. Prior to those interviews, I had become convinced that IHI’s shipbuilding system was the most effective in the world and I had acquired evidence that it was based upon sound management principles that were conceived in the West.

Since the same principles had been available to North American and European shipyard managers whose organizations of people, information, and work remained as they had been in the 1940s, I naturally wondered why the world’s most effective shipbuilding system, that had the unique characteristic of constant self improvement, was in place in IHI shipyards by 1960 and not at all elsewhere.

I sensed from Dr. Shinto’s willingness to assist me, and from his demeanor while doing so, that he did not have the kind of ego that required an exalted atmosphere about him. Instead, I sensed that he had a profound respect for the people who performed physical work and because of that, he was constantly aware of management’s obligation to create a system in which people “work smarter not harder” as one of his mentor’s, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, urged.

I learned from Dr. Shinto that an effective shipbuilding system features organizations of people, information, and work that facilitate analyses by participants at every level and constant acceptance of ideas for improvements based upon factual evidence regardless of who submitted the ideas. Dr. Shinto advocated need to constantly improve the system as being more important than anything else, even more important than himself as the chief executive. He exhibited true leadership; he knew the methods for effective management and he employed them for the benefit of his employees.

Louis D. Chirillo
A Research and Development Project Manager for the
U.S. National Shipbuilding Research Program; and
Chairman, The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers’ Panel SP-2
1971-1987

One thought on “A tribute to Dr. H. Shinto

  1. Tim Colton wrote:
    I met Dr. Shinto several times during the early days of IHI’s efforts to teach us modern shipbuilding and I think Lou’s got him just right. He was a true gentleman.

    If one were to make a short list of the world’s all-time great shipbuilders, he would have to be on it. Who else?

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