While the Shewhart Cycle of PDCA is helpful and is widely practiced by many companies that have adopted lean manufacturing and A3 Thinking and A3 Problem Solving, lean process management as it is practiced inside of Toyota is formally called the Toyota Business Practice, or TBP. On its face, the Toyota Business Practice seems to be a departure from PDCA, but it’s really a more specific articulation of PDCA.
There are many similarities with the PDCA cycle, but ultimately PDCA was too broad and Toyota found it appropriate to be more specific. The 8 steps of the Toyota Business Process are:
- Clarify the problem
- Breakdown the problem
- Set a target
- Analyze the root cause
- Develop countermeasures
- See countermeasures through
- Evaluate both results and process
- Standardize successful processes
Toyota Business Practice and PDCA and A3
Thanks to Jon Miller, we have the 8 steps written below in the original Japanese. The original Japanese shows us the subtle differences between PDCA and the Toyota Business Practice. According to Jon Miller’s linguistic analysis, he claims that
Step 1 “Set a target” seems a bit loose while Japanese contains the word “achieve” that plants the idea that targets are things that must be met. Step 4 is not “analyze” but “think through” or “think until you find” and step 8 in Japanese doesn’t talk about “standardize” (this being an implied part of the Toyota WOW) but instead stresses that the results muse become “established” or “take hold”.
Ultimately, PDCA and the Toyota Business Practice, lead to the final product, known as the A3 Report. Comparatively, below is a table showing the the similarities between PDCA and the Toyota Business Practice:
トヨタの仕事の仕方8ステップ (the 8 steps of the Toyota Way of Problem Solving)
- 問題を明確にする (clarify the problem)
- 問題をブレイクダウンする (breakdown the problem)
- 達成目標を決める (set the target to be achieved)
- 真因を考え抜く (think through to the true cause)
- 対策を立てる (develop countermeasures)
- 対策をやりぬく (follow through on the countermeasures)
- 結果とプロセスを評価する (evaluate the result and the process)
- 成果を定着させる (make sure the results take hold)
Below is a video showing the development and nuances of the Toyota Business Practice and it’s relationship to both PDCA and the A3 Report. What do you think? How will adopting the Toyota Business Practice help you and your organization improve its Lean Training?