Book – Managing to Learn

Author – John Shook

Managing to Learn by Toyota veteran John Shook, reveals the thinking underlying the A3 management process found at the heart of lean management and leadership. Constructed as a dialogue between a manager and his boss, the book explains how “A3 thinking” helps managers and executives identify, frame, and act on problems and challenges. Shook calls this A3 approach, “the key to Toyota’s entire system of developing talent and continually deepening its knowledge and capabilities.”

Lean.org Synopsis

Strange Post

This book is a bit different than the ones I usually post about here; this is much more technical. So what has Chaz been doing when he is not writing (Besides finding ANY excuse to not write…)? He is continuously learning about scientific management!

What is Lean Management?

You may have heard the term “Lean management” before, but what does it actually mean? In a nutshell, Lean management is all about eliminating waste and maximizing value for the customer. Sounds pretty simple, right? But there’s a lot more to it than that. Let’s take a closer look at what Lean management entails.

The Infamous House of Lean

Lean Management

Lean management originated in the automotive industry, but it has since been adopted in a variety of industries including healthcare, manufacturing, government, and more. The basis of Lean management is the Toyota Production System (TPS), which was developed by Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda in the 1950s. TPS is premised on the following concepts:

  • Just-in-time production: Only produce what is needed, when it is needed, and in the quantity needed. This minimizes inventory and reduces waste.
  • Standardized work: Work processes should be well-defined and standardized so that everyone knows what to do and how to do it. This minimizes errors and increases productivity.
  • Continuous improvement: Always be looking for ways to improve processes and eliminate waste. This helps businesses stay competitive and maintain a high level of quality.
  • Respect for people: Employees should be respected and involved in decision-making so that they can help identify problems and suggest solutions.

These concepts can be applied to any organization in any industry. When implemented properly, Lean management can help businesses achieve operational excellence by reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and improving quality. But it’s not just about developing new processes; it’s also about changing the way people think about work. As John Shook says in his book Managing to Learn, “Lean isn’t just a way of doing things; it’s a way of thinking.” If you want your business to be successful, you need to start thinking Lean.

Give this a watch if you are still interested.

A3 Thinking Defined

Example A3

The A3 thinking process is a problem-solving method that gets its name from the size of the paper it is typically written on (11″ x 17″). The A3 report is used to concisely communicate the problem, current situation, root causes, proposed countermeasures, and expected results. The A3 report is an iterative process; as new information is gathered, the A3 report is updated to reflect it. This allows for continuous improvement in both the problem-solving process and the outcome.

Here’s an example of how the A3 thinking process might be used to solve a simple problem:
You notice that employees are not washing their hands after using the restroom. This could result in increased absenteeism due to illness, as well as decreased productivity due to those who do come to work being less effective when they are sick. After doing some initial research, you identify two root causes of the problem: 1) there are no signs reminding employees to wash their hands and 2) there is no soap in the dispensers. You develop a countermeasure for each root cause and implement them. You then monitor the situation to see if the problem has been resolved. If not, you continue to iterate on the A3 report until the problem is solved.

The beauty of the A3 thinking process is its flexibility; it can be used to solve problems of any size or complexity. Whether you’re trying to solve a production issue or develop a new strategy for your business, the A3 thinking process can be adapted to meet your needs.
If you’re new to using the A3 thinking process, start with something small and try using it on a daily basis until it becomes second nature. As you become more comfortable with it, you’ll be able to use it to tackle larger and more complex problems. And once you’ve mastered the A3 thinking process, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your lean goals!

Should I Read It?

This is going to be a mostly niche recommendation, but if anyone here is interested in learning how to learn, lead, and operate more effectively, I would STRONGLY suggest reading this book. It has a unique style that I’ve never read in a book like this before.

Another video for you masochists out there that find this as captivating as I do!

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