John Shook has written a solid book that can stand proudly alongside the other books in the Lean Enterprise Institute’s lineup. This book is especially useful for those new to lean who want to understand the nuts and bolts of how the A3 management system works. Most people new to lean begin applying the tools without a full appreciation of the management system or the real thinking that goes on behind it. Without these supporting mechanisms, people’s efforts at lean deployment generate small results and sustainment is poor. A3s are one of the key tools to successful deployment.
As with other books in the LEI lineup, this book is very readable. The illustrations are simple, the examples are straightforward, and the text is well-edited and well-structured. This book takes a fictional company as an example. As one who helps teach others, the narrative style has irritated me because authors frequently use it in a pure storytelling format. Books like these often have little instructional value because they are difficult to study from. Managing to Learn tells a company’s example story, but it also explains and discusses the narrative events in a second column of text in the margin. Its almost like your floating above the players with your sensei, hearing the thoughts of the actors and an explanation by your lean leader. Combined with sidebar comments and uncluttered illustrations, the layout and style of this book make it a rich reference and a great study and teaching tool.