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Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1563273605
ISBN-10: 1563273608
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Productivity Press; 1 edition (March 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563273608
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563273605
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. D. Laske on May 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I finally got my copy of this book in the mail last week. I guess it is sold out and hard to obtain at any site. I'm glad to finally have mine. Given some of the comments above I'm guessing there was either a delay at the publishers or they simply did not anticipate all the demand. I did finally get mine however...

Regardless I am please to note that this book is an excellent summary of A3 Thinking. I've had some exposure to the topic in the past and always been left wanting more. This finally gets at a lot of questions I had about the concept. If you have ever wanted to learn what an A3 report is and more importantly the thought process behind one then this is the best place to start that I know of. The print is a little small and the text is 164 pages I think the 184 page figure comes from including the other pages in the foreword, acknowledgements, and introduction sections etc. However there is no shortage of good information inside. I zipped through it over the weekend and got some great insights right away.

The contents of the book include the following eight chapters. Each is roughly about 20 pages in length.

1. A Basis for Managerial Effectiveness
2. A3 Thinking - the Seven Elements
3. The Problem Solving A3 Report
4. The Proposal A3 Report
5. The Status A3 Report
6. Notes on Form and Style
7. Supporting Structures
8. Conclusion

I thought the second chapter on the seven elements A3 Thinking was particularly insightful and appreciated the advice on the different types of examples as well. The book is both a good "what is" summary of the topic and contains some very practical advice about "how to" write different types. Equally importantly for me at least it included some insight on how to critique A3's as well. I give the work five stars as it fills a void in the lean literature in a very readable manner.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Outstanding reference work of the logic and mechanics of creating A3's. Covered are 3 variants: 1) Problem Solving A3's, 2) Proposal A3's, and 3) Status A3's.

The authors present a refreshingly pragmatic approach to helping improvement teams and leaders to drive communication, scientific method thinking and organizational alignment for improvement. Clearly building on the A3 heritage of Toyota...the focus is on the thought process and not on one correct format. " ...like snowflakes, no two A3's are alike."

Six Sigma professionals will recognize many elements (both existing and omitted) of DMAIC thinking in the PDCA format of the A3. For today's challenging business cycle, the A3 approach can offer faster, less bureaucratic results, building on more frequent cycles of learning through revision than DMAIC.

This book is valuable for beginners as well as veteran Six Sigma professionals looking to make the transition from DMAIC to A3 thinking.

The case studies included in the book provide an outstanding opportunity to test your understanding and gain initial cycles of learning with A3's writing and reviewing.

Save this book for a long flight; you can get through the case studies easily.

Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor, and Lead is another helpful guide to A3's which deals even more with the "human side" of A3 thinking.

For those who wish to go deeper into the graphical aspects of A3, which are discussed to a limited degree in Mr. Sorbek's work, Edward Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition is a valuable resource.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is outstanding. I initially thought it would be a quick read since the page count is short, but I found myself slowly savoring it. This book is like a good wine where you appreciate the textures and nuances if you take it slow.

I suggest this book to all Lean practitioners, most project managers, people who use data to understand problems and show improvements, people who like to draw, and anybody else that enjoys the thought process behind problem solving.

This is a great next book for fans of THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN. [...]

The authors offer profound insights to A3 thinking and structure. They also paint a deeper understanding of the thinking at Toyota. I particularly liked the explanation of nemawashi and how the A3 author must return to those where their concerns were not addressed to explain why.

I found the thinking behind data to be fascinating. It is nice to see how much or how little is used. The authors even give a nice overview of Tufte's graph theories while providing an easy template to choose the best graph to match your communication goal.

For project managers, the A3 project status template is worth exploring. I have used dashboards in the past but this structure paints a better picture while ensuring the organization's objectives are still being met (projects can chug along way past this simple goal and this report keeps it grounded).

Last but not least, my organization is in the infancy of launching A3 to our mix of Improvement Workshops and Value Stream work. This book offers practical suggestions for starting A3 at your enterprise.
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