Brian's Reviews > Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor and Lead

Managing to Learn by John Shook
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Apr 01, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2009, change-and-improvement-books
Read in March, 2009

"Managing to Learn" is an excellent book for managers and coaches of A3 authors/advocates. John Shook is a true sensei with 11 years of Toyota history and real world experience in helping organizations with Lean transformations. I have been learning a lot from his incredible blog posts recently as well.

My organization is about 5 months into our A3 launch so I have been researching a lot for best practices and ideas. I initially thought this book was going to be a "how to" guide for the author of the A3. You can probably understand how to write an A3 from this book but it is not as explicit as Sobek/Smalley's book. I believe managers and coaches should read both books.

Where this book truly shines is getting into the head of the A3 mentor. A lot of Lean books are written from an academic standpoint but this book feels more like a day in the life of someone actually doing the work. The pressure the manager feels organizationally to get things completed in contrast to allowing the A3 author time to learn is a true struggle I have seen in Lean transformations. The book has a part where the manager is dealing with multiple A3 authors all at different stages in their learning. I know these are true mental challenges for coaches so it is nice to relate to a character going through the same things.

Coaches can learn a lot from this book to help the A3 author’s growth and deep understanding.

Some great things I learned from the book is how to encourage more than one counter-measure, using respect through conflict, helping the author make valid decisions and transition from author to advocate, pull-based authority, using 5 whys after implementing in the check/act cycle, and how to help the A3 writer become a coach themselves.

I think this book would be interesting to Project Managers as well. The last few chapters offer some great insight on how to deal with iterative changes and dealing with cultural resistance.
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