Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System
Art Smalley, Durward K. Sobek
Winner of a 2009 Shingo Research and Professional Publication Prize. The A3 report has proven to be a key tool In Toyotaâ€™s successful move toward organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and improvement, especially within its engineering and R&D organizations. The power of the A3 report, however, derives not from the report itself, but rather from the development of the culture and mindset required for the implementation of the A3 system. In other words, A3 reports are not just an end product but are evidence of a powerful set of dynamics that is referred to as A3 Thinking.
Respect for People
"The fifth item of my list pertains to development of employee talent over time. Respect for people means developing their latent skills in both on the job and off the job training. It is easy to invest money in new technology, software, or equipment. It takes time, effort, and planning to invest in employee skills development. Canned training programs and Powerpoint slide presentations do not do the job."
Shigeo Shingo: Influence on TPS
An Interview with Mr. Isao Kato. "his main contribution to Toyota was actually as an instructor of fundamental process improvement methods and developer of several thousand manufacturing engineers in the company. This influence should be properly recognized as we all learned a great deal from him on how to see problems in production."
TPS vs. Lean and the Law of Unintended Consequences
"In every piece of TPS literature from Toyota, this stated aim is mixed in with the twin production principles of Just in Time (make and deliver the right part, in the right amount, at the right time), and Jidoka (build in quality at the process), as well as the notion of continuous improvement by standardization and elimination of waste in all operations to improve quality, cost, productivity, lead-time, safety, morale and other metrics as needed. This clear objective has not substantially changed since the first internal TPS training manual was drafted over thirty years ago."
Management Web Sites and Resources
Michael Ballé, H. Thomas Johnson, Daniel T. Jones, Art Smalley, Steven Spear, Jeffrey Liker, Mike Rother
"Lean management is a method to dramatically improve business performance by teaching people how to improve their own processes. The two main dimensions of lean management are continuous process improvement (going and seeing problems at the source, challenging operations and improving step by step) and respect for people (developing and engaging employees by developing teamwork, problem solving and respect for customers, employees and all other partners).
The aim of the discussion [on the site] is to share different points of view and to collectively build a vision of lean management."