Art Smalley is a renowned expert specializing in leadership, problem solving, and operational improvement.
In the latter part of the 1980s Art was one of the first Americans to work for Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan, first studying at different universities in Japan and then learning the principles of TPS in the historic Kamigo engine plant where Taiichi Ohno was the founding plant manager. Art also played an instrumental role in the development and transfer of TPS methods and precision equipment to Toyota’s overseas plants.
After a decade in Japan, Art returned to the United States and served as Director of Lean Manufacturing for Donnelly Corporation for five years. Art helped lead one of the most impressive lean transformations in North America. Donnelly won multiple awards while substantially improving net income, as well as operational metrics in safety, quality, productivity, delivery, and morale. Art’s work and this turnaround was featured in Forbes and many other publications.
In 1998, Art joined the international management consulting firm of McKinsey & Company and was one of the firm’s leading experts in lean manufacturing. He counseled numerous Fortune 500 clients on operational matters involving lean implementation and oversaw numerous successful quality, cost, and delivery improvement projects.
In 2003, Art launched his own company Art of Lean, Inc. and now divides his time serving a diverse base of clients such as Parker Hannifin, Delphi, Timken, Schlumberger, Gillette, Nexteer, Sandia National Laboratories, private equity groups, and many other organizations. A vast array of articles, guides, and documents pertaining to leadership and lean are available on his website: www.artoflean.com
Art serves as author and periodic advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute and its global affiliates, delivering lectures to leading manufacturing executives around the world. In 2005, Art authored the Shingo Publication Award-winning workbook Creating Level Pull on implementing basic pull production. In 2008, he co-authored with his friend and colleague Professor Durward K. Sobek, the Shingo winning book Understanding A3 Thinking. In 2010, Art published Toyota's Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement with Isao Kato. In 2018, Art wrote his latest book Four Types of Problems, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute.
Recently I read 4 Types of Problem Solving by Art Smalley. When I read a book, I try to evaluate it through two lenses – how will it help my department – the central continuous improvement group of the company, and secondly, how will it help the practitioners that my department supports. If you’re coaching others, you need this book. The history of problem solving, the comparison of different methodology is very good background material for those that need or want to understand the technical differences of those techniques – like individuals in my department. The pragmatic, hands-on practitioners I support might skim those sections however they would read and use the section on Problem Solving Types 1-3. The explanation of troubleshooting and problem solving was informative to me and helped explain why I’ve seen some resistance to 5why problem solving by front line supervision. This section will help everyone better understand what type of problem they are dealing with. The How-To on reactive problem solving is the highlight of the book. Anyone and everyone will benefit from this section of the book and will be the section I encourage all of my practitioners to read.
Overall, I think everyone will benefit from something in the book – and some will use more sections of the book than others.
This is an excellent book that identifies key differences in how we solve problems. I have incorporated these four approaches into my consultations in China and the workshop sponsors were so impressed that the purchased the book. I believe ultimate translation into different languages would widen the audience
Sharpen your problem solving skills with your professor John Shook in our new online course Introduction to Problem Solving.