Taiichi Ohno

Hearing Taiichi Ohno's Voice

By Jon Miller Published on April 15th, 2011

Many of us have read the words of Taiichi Ohno and learned from his teachings. Relatively few of us have heard his voice and even fewer have met him directly. I unearthed a gem during one of my recent efforts to organize my work, and I and want to share with everyone. It is an audio file from a speech by Taiichi Ohno about kaizen.

The audio cuts in mid-sentence, with the word “infinite”. Presumably he was stating that kaizen ideas are infinite. Here is my translation of the audio.

“[kaizen ideas]…are infinite. Don’t think you have made things better than before and be at ease. As I mentioned earlier, this would be like the student who becomes proud because they bested their master two times out of three in fencing. Once you learn how to pick up the sprouts of kaizen ideas, It is important to have the attitude in our daily work that just underneath one kaizen idea is yet another one. I have exceeded my time. My apologies. I would like to conclude my speech.”

In less than 40 seconds Taiichi Ohno reminds us that kaizen is infinite, to avoid complacency, and to practice daily. I had never heard his voice before today. It was moving, and somehow very familiar. It is excellent to hear the master’s voice. I hope you gain some inspiration or encouragement from this also.

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