Managing to Learn: The Use of the A3 Management Process (2 Day Class)
Where is YOUR organization?
When you hear A3, what comes to mind? A paper size, tool, or a process? Look at the diagram below. Where would your organization fall on this chart? Our observation is most people use A3s on special projects as a “report out” tool of the results. Although this provides the benefit of a quick summary it doesn’t begin to take advantage of the benefit of the A3 or of the A3 thinking process. Using an A3 as a report out tool is like using a smartphone exclusively for phone calls. Yes, you are getting some value, but only a fraction of what is possible.
As Jim Womack says, "The most basic definition of an A3 would be a P-D-C-A storyboard or report, reflecting Toyota's way of capturing the PDCA process on one sheet of paper. But the broader notion of the A3 as a process–embodying the way of thinking represented in the format–captures the heart of lean management. In this context, an A3 document structures effective and efficient dialogue that fosters understanding followed by the opportunity for deep agreement.” How often do you experience “deep agreement” in your team or organization? He goes, “It's a tool that engenders communication and dialogue in a manner that leads to good decisions, where the proposed countermeasures have a better chance of being effective because they are based on facts and data gathered at the place where the work is performed, from the people who perform it."
The purpose of this workshop is to explore the lessons and insights of Managing to Learn from four perspectives.
Note: each participant will receive a copy of Managing to Learn.
1. First, you’ll learn sound A3 thinking and management by following the stages of learning shared in Managing To Learn (MTL). MTL describes how a young manager learns to handle a significant problem-solving responsibility by creating an A3 that earns him the authority to address the problem in the ways he proposes. You’ll examine how the A3 changes with each revision, what the young manager has learned about the A3 thinking, the A3 process that he applies in each revision, and what the course of his development indicates about the deep problem-solving focus that characterizes lean thinking.
2. Next, you’ll get the chance to develop your own eyes and ears to recognize effective A3 stories. You’ll describe the problem-solving thinking that is required for each section of the A3 for the PDCA story it tells to be effective.
3. Then, you’ll create your own A3s. You’ll address real problems you’re already working on every day for this exercise. You’ll work in small groups to read, discuss, and evaluate each other's A3s. And then you’ll have the chance to coach each other, offering guidance on how to improve each other’s A3 stories.
4. Finally, you’ll learn various forms and uses of the A3 process. You’ll have examples from Managing to Learn to use as a guide. And you’ll explore the following:
- Basic types of A3 stories and how the format differs for each
- Role that A3 plays in the process for gaining alignment with the stakeholders in a problem situation and seeking their agreement to proceed with the countermeasures or improvements being proposed
- Ways that A3 functions as a change management tool, a general management tool, a human development tool and a knowledge sharing too
Through instruction, small group discussions and exercises, the workshop participants will:
- Learn the basic formats of A3s and uses of the A3 as a management process
- Gain experience in the three basic roles of the A3 process (Author/Owner, Responder, Coach)
Who should attend:
- Any manager who wishes to improve his or her organization
- Any manager who wishes to lead and manage his or her organization more effectively
- Change agents, lean promotion office managers, and specialists
- HR and OD professionals who wish to seek more effective means to deeply improve the thinking, behavior, alignment, and performance of their organization and the people in it
- Senior executives who wish to improve their abilities to lead and manage
- Anyone who wishes to improve his or her critical lean thinking
Eric Ethington has passion for lean, and over 30 years of work experience feeding that passion. Starting as an Industrial Engineer with General Motors’ AC Spark Plug Division, Eric learned early that continuous improvement required a balance of technical knowledge and interpersonal skills. In 1998 Eric began a lean implementation leadership position with Delphi’s Energy division in Flint, Michigan.
During this same time, Eric coached cross-functional teams and met one of his most influential mentors, Yoshinobu Yamada. From 1998 to 2002 Eric spent over 50% of his time learning from Mr. Yamada in a variety of plants and situations throughout Delphi. This experience helped him to understand that lean transformations are very case-by-case; success is not achieved and sustained from a check-list.
In 2001 Eric moved to Delphi’s World Headquarters as the manager of the corporate lean support team. He piloted the Lean Enterprise College where he was introduced to the A3 process as it was a featured segment in the training with the support of John Shook.
After Delphi, Eric worked at Textron before founding Lean Shift Consulting in 2009, focusing on developing others to be lean leaders and transform their own organizations. Since 2009 he has also supported the LEI Lean Enterprise Partners Program. Eric holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Kettering University (formerly GMI), an MBA in Operations from the University of Michigan, Flint campus, and is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt in Design. He and his family call Grand Blanc, Michigan home; although if you cannot find him there, Eric is probably hiding in the woods in northern Michigan.
Co-Owner, LEI Faculty
Teaching Lean Inc.
Ernie has 25 years of Manufacturing and Human Resources management experience which allows him to see the cultural dynamics from both functional areas of a company. He gained this experience at Toyota Motor Manufacturing where he grew from Team Leader, to Group Leader, to Assistance Manager on the manufacturing side. After which he moved to HR, assuming, at different times, responsibility for skill development programs, safety and medical management. As Acting Medical Director for Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Ernie was responsible for nine on-site medical clinics across Toyota North America (convenience care, full-primary care, and occupational care). He was also responsible for disability management (as describe above) North American wide. Ernie worked at IBM for 8 years before joining Toyota. Currently, Ernie shares his extensive experience with members of the lean community as a co-owner of Teaching Lean and a Faculty member of the Lean Enterprise Institute.
Co-Owner, LEI Faculty
Teaching Lean Incorporated
Tracey has over 24 years experience in different roles within Toyota and learned lean practices as a Group Leader at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky from 1988-1998. She was one of the first team members hired, with the fortunate opportunity to learn directly from the Japanese trainers. As a Group Leader and Quality Circle Advisor, she learned first-hand about lean tools and culture development. Now, as President of Teaching Lean, Inc. Tracey currently works within Toyota Motor Manufacturing plants and suppliers and other companies on their lean journeys, helping them develop the capabilities of employees - from the team-member level up to company leadership - through problem-solving and aligning daily activities with company business plans (PDCA-hoshin), enabling these companies to create a lean culture that is the foundation for success and long term sustainability. Tracey is an active coach and contributor to LEI's MTL A3 Dojo available on lean.org. Tracey also teaches several problem-solving and A3 workshops as an LEI faculty member.
Chairman and CEO
Lean Enterprise Institute
John Shook is recognized as a true sensei who enthusiastically shares his knowledge and insights within the Lean Community and with those who have not yet made the lean leap.
Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and subsequently to other operations around the world. While at Toyota's headquarters, he became the company's first American kacho (manager) in Japan. In the U.S., Shook joined Toyota’s North American engineering, research and development center in Ann Arbor, MI, as general manager of administration and planning. His last position with Toyota was as senior American manager with the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, KY, assisting North American companies implement the Toyota Production System. As co-author of Learning to See John helped introduce the world to value-stream mapping. John also co-authored Kaizen Express, a bi-lingual manual of the essential concepts and tools of the Toyota Production System. In his latest book Managing to Learn, he describes the A3 management process at the heart of lean management and leadership.
Shook is an industrial anthropologist with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and is a graduate of the Japan-America Institute of Management Science. He is the former director of the University of Michigan, Japan Technological Management Program, and faculty of the university’s Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering.
He is the author of "Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report"; Sloan Management Review, July 2010 and "How to Change a Culture: Lessons from NUMMI"; Sloan Management Review, January 2010, which won Sloan’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize for outstanding article in the field of organizational development.
Shook is a sought-after conference keynoter who has been interviewed on lean management by National Public Radio, Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and numerous trade publications.
Lean Transformations Group
David has been a performance improvement consultant and leadership coach since 2000. Prior to that, he worked for Toyota in North America for 14 years, first as an internal change agent and later as a manager of human resource development at the plant and North American levels. He has been on the workshop faculty of the Lean Enterprise Institute for eleven years and has done presentations and workshops to support a number of the LEI affiliates in the Lean Global Network. David has worked with clients in manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and higher education in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. His work focuses on supporting clients in process improvement, development of lean management systems and practices, strategic thinking and problem solving, and leadership coaching for managers and executives. David is a partner in the Lean Transformations Group and is based in Lexington, KY, where he works through Verble, Worth & Verble.
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