Learning to Learn : The Feynman Technique for Productivity

Researchers have been recently analyzing about organizational learning so vigorously because the many facts that proves that organization that could learn faster than their competition could lead the race. One of it is the works of a notable researcher from MIT, Steven. J. Spear in his book The High Velocity Edge. He mentioned that the top organizations that he investigated could lead their industry year in and out because the learning capability. It means success comes not only because of a good performance or planning, but more accurate is when learning and learning it fast.


brain (Photo credit: TZA)

The value of learning could not be emphasized further by human as every parents sent their children to school and for some until university. The result expected is beyond a paper that prove the child to be graduate as an engineer or a doctor, but to prove that the child can actually learn. In school and/or university, people learn how to learn because it is no doubt that those who could learn faster has a big probability of getting way easier in this life and be more successful than those people who are considered a hard learner.

Feynman  is an influential theoretical physicist and his works is radically changing the world. one of his works is in the development of atomic bomb as an important assistant. He is also considered a pioneer  in the field quantum computing and introducing the concept of nano-technology. Behind his successful career, he shares with the world a method called Feynman Technique to teach how to learn anything faster.


Productivity cannot be separated from learning as by learning, one can devise a thousands of ways to reach a goal and hence increase their productivity. Leaning to learn as a way to become more productive is very deep concept. In a sense that being more productive involves updating and enhancing our foundational concept and remake the structure of our minds in learning things. This knowledge inside our head will at the end gives additional capability to us to think about probable improvement of methods that will later increase productivity of our desired goals.

To get to know who is Feynman:


Living in Lean Culture: Seeing is Believing

I have remembered how I have been amazed by a discovery in my own country Indonesia. I have gone so long to my reflective side of me after I have witnessed things that I couldn’t imagine to be exist in my country. Considering about the status of my country which categorized as a developing countries and the experience that I have on visiting several factories, I have been startled by a visitation to a factory in which the culture of Lean is very apparent.

In April 2011, I accompanied colleague students of my University to have a field trip to the automotive manufacturer plant which handle the assembly of medium and low trucks. I have had an experience for six months of internship in a quite famous automotive manufacturer overseas in Germany. Therefore, I presumed that the plant that we were going to visit was not possible to have a better management and/or technology than in Germany.

By the time we got there, I verify my assumption with the fact. It turns out at the first sight this plant which located in my country have nothing extra worth to be noted as better when compared to the technology with what the Germans have. It was a very conventional plant. At the site, we gathered together to a short briefing and quickly we were divided into several group and being arranged into route of travel around factory.

We make a start to the first process and go until the latest process in the plant. The tour guide which happens to be the supervisor and a foreman assisting us and generously share their experience about the working procedure, process, and experience. The workers in some areas are very kindly and proudly explaining the things that they are responsible of. I was astonished after we have come to an end. It was amazing to be there that  day and I felt very fortunate to be there.

I saw that  lean management in the factory that actually work. In that moment I totally changed my paradigm when I see with my own eyes that there is a factory runs smoothly by using no automation and high-tech and rely on the management of lean. They are many of lean concept use to manage the system. By concept I didn’t mean just methodology, but people actions and the the artifact of boards that daily updated, and the acknowledgement of suggestion of workers for all factory members. Besides of the Japanese auditor from Japan that always came to the factory to maintain the performance, many interesting facts have surprised me.

Previously I am very disappointed with labor from my country. It is because in my view, labor in my country is lazy and unproductive. However, what I saw that day at the factory could really make me realize the power of Lean. Lean could changed people behavior and culture to the desired one. I felt really happy to be there.

Invention, Innovation, and Kaizen

I recently read a really inspiring blog from gemba panta rei (http://www.gembapantarei.com/2012/08/innovation_is_nothing_but_ecrs.html). The post was basically a commentary from a TED video with the title Everything is a remix by Kirby Ferguson.

I know it’s a little odd to comment on a commentary blog post. But the topic is so stimulating for me to write a post on it. long story short is that I am absolutely agree with it.

The longer one is that when we considered the difference between invention, innovation and continuous improvement, we could really more see the beautiful of what Toyota has done until now.

Maasaki Imai has once stated that not only by continuous improvement we can make sure that our system is not deteriorate/maintained until the next innovation is come into being. The concept shown in the picture shows how Toyota make a difference between innovation, kaizen, and maintenance.

when we pointing to Oslo Manual that regulate innovation by European Commission. It is also said that of all innovation types of process, product, organizational, and marketing, innovation in all of them are significant changes. Thus, waiting for the innovation to appear, kaizen could really make an enormous difference to the system as depicted below.

the light blue line is innovation combined with kaizen and maintenance, whereas the blue line in the middle is innovation and maintenance, and the last pink line is when a company or a system only hold on to the concept of innovation.

What is lack from it is the part of Invention. Innovation can come from anyone in a company such as executives or engineers but Research and Development Department is formally responsible for it. Kaizen is also the responsibility of all people in the company but with the “Teachers” or  “Educators” being the Quality Department and Lean/Continuous Improvement Team. But we forget about Invention. I think in the future, it has to be someway to make invention finding as systematic as when we do both innovation and also kaizen.

Toyota has invented Prius with its sophisticated hybrid technology. But the question is can they also make invention systematic?