4.1. Experimentation Hardware: The Eight-Step and A3 Processes

Toyota's eagerness to experiment is embedded in the problem-solving routines or processes that have become a normal part of everyday business. The company evolved the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model (shown here), which is a generic, continuous improvement process practiced widely throughout the business world, into the eight-step and A3 reporting processes, which are unique to Toyota. These are both an expression of the culture at Toyota, in which problem solving is considered to be a critical capability that is implanted in all employees early in their careers through rigorous training.

  • Plan: Develop an action plan

  • Do: Put solutions into action

  • Check: Verify results

  • Act: Make necessary adjustments to the action plan and solutions

According to the Senior Managing Director in charge of Human Resource Management, Akio Matsubara:

Up until an employee's tenth year with the company, we repeatedly administer a three-stage training process designed to develop problem-solving skills. All Toyota employees, domestic or overseas, learn problem-solving skills as the basis of Toyota's fundamental approach to getting work done. Toyota's philosophy is that, when an employee solves a problem, they make a contribution to corporate policies that ultimately are connected to user satisfaction. We inculcate our employees with the idea that learning to solve problems well is the absolute minimum requirement for success at Toyota. []

The eight-step ...

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