Paul Akers, founder and president of FastCap, has published his first book 2 Second Lean: How to Grow People and Build a Fun Lean Culture at Work and at Home. I have been following Paul for several years as he has built FastCap into one of the model Lean Companies in this modern age. So now that Paul has published his story I was delighted to take the opportunity to learn more.
2 Second Lean is different than most books on the marketing written about Lean manufacturing/thinking. This book isn’t really about Lean or continuous improvement but rather the transformation of a leader. The story chronicles one man’s personal journey with the discovery of Lean and how he implemented it in his business and personal life. This personal touch makes the lessons Paul presents more relevant and lasting.
Paul describes his personal journey beginning with a total ignorance of Lean thinking, all the way to being one of Lean's greatest success stories. Paul illustrates the struggle many organizations face when their understanding of Lean is centered only around tools. To quote Paul, “Using Lean as only a tool will leave you disappointed. It is much more than that.” He learns from Domo Arigoto, Vice President of Lexus, “The most important thing for Toyota is people – teaching and training people in a culture of continuous improvement.” This is the turning point for Paul and FastCap.
In 2 Second Lean Paul outlines the steps that he personally used to transform the culture of FastCap. His approach may be a bit unorthodox as he advocates starting in the bathroom but it is simplicity that he is after. Throughout the book Paul breaks down the concepts and thinking into simple easy to understand lessons.
This book is a very quick read but offers a number of great resources buried within its covers. There are lots of colorful photos and examples throughout the book. If that wasn’t enough Paul even uses QR Codes to link to information and videos on his websites for more detailed learning. The end of each chapter concludes with “The One Thing” which is a synopsis of what you just learned which is followed up by questions to make you act on your own situation. This reinforces the lessons and substantiates the learning for readers.
There is an audio version of the book that recorded. This is a real treat to listen to since Paul is such a passionate personality. Anyone who knows Paul knows the energy he brings to this topic. Paul goes off script from the book but adds great value. Since the stories are so personal he ad libs throughout the recording adding some new tibits to ponder.
Paul says’, “At the end of the day everyone is a process engineer.” If you want something to stick as a leader you must expect it, inspect it, and reinforce it. Paul has simplified a rather complex process down into a simple phrase: "Identify what bugs you and fix it." Paul shows us that Lean can and should be fun.
I highly recommend reading this book and even further endorse the audio portion. You will find 2 Second Lean a fun, memorable, and valuable account into Lean. This story and its lessons is something everyone can benefit from personally and professionally.