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Lessons in A3 Thinking: What Porter Learned in Managing to Learn (1 Day Class)

Has your organization spent a lot of time training a lot of people in A3 creation, yet problems are still not getting solved and staying solved as expected? 

Start getting more of the benefits of the A3 process. In this full-day, in-depth workshop you’ll discover deeper principles, practices, and thinking behind A3 creation and collaboration, exactly the way Desi Porter learned in Managing to Learn, the popular and groundbreaking book by lean management expert and LEI CEO John Shook.

Porter, the book’s fictional manager versed in lean basics, learned a great deal more than how to solve a problem by writing down his ideas in the boxes of an A3 storyboard. 

He discovered how to use the underlying forms of A3 thinking and leading to gain the authority for his team to act on behalf of the company. Mastering these forms of thinking and doing is the key to creating and sustaining effective A3s. 

In this workshop, LEI faculty member, Toyota veteran, and experienced lean practitioner and coach David Verble, will guide you along Porter’s journey of discovery. 

Workshop Benefits

  • Most A3 training focuses primarily on what goes into the storyboard boxes. This workshop concentrates on 10 essential elements that underpin the A3 creation process that you need to understand.
  • A3s are more than a tool for reporting problem solving activity and countermeasures. In this session, you’ll learn how to use the A3 as a proposal for action representing the knowledge, thinking, and support of all stakeholders.
  • We’ll help you make progress on real problems. Bring an A3 from work to class. Working on a real problem will reinforce your new knowledge and prepare you to take action immediately when you go back to work.
  • Become a better problem solver and coach. You’ll deepen your understanding of how to use, sustain, and spread the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) scientific method as a thinking and operating process that makes team members observe reality, present data, propose countermeasures, and follow-up.
  • Identify and avoid the common pitfalls that make A3s “lean wallpaper” with limited result.

What You’ll Cover

You’ll examine 10 key aspects of creating and sustaining A3s – just as Porter learned --presented as a series of questions:  

  1. Why is A3 problem solving really about performance improvement?
  2. Why must A3 communication be two-way, not just one way?
  3. Why is value-stream thinking an essential part of A3 thinking?
  4. Why is “A3 problem owner” not just a title but a responsibility?
  5. Why is A3 creation actually a leadership role?
  6. Why is the purpose of creating an A3 not to make a decision but to get a decision made?
  7. Why is creating an A3 not just writing down what you know but about learning what you don’t know?
  8. Why does a “blanket” solution seldom make a good solution in A3 thinking?
  9. Why A3 thinking based on PDCA doesn’t end when the A3 is approved and signed; what do you do next?
  10. Why did Sanderson, Porter’s supervisor and mentor, coach him by asking not telling? 

How This Training Is Different

This is not a typical training program where you sit, watch slides, listen, do some exercises, and maybe discuss your thoughts and experiences.  You have to come prepared. 

  • First, bring 5 copies of a recent A3 or one you are working to share with your table team.
  • And second, come prepared to think and talk about what you thought and wondered as you read the questions above. 

Who Will Be There

  • Business professionals from industry, service, and healthcare organizations who have to create A3s to propose countermeasures, improvements, or make changes;
  • Managers who have to review and react to A3s and coach the creators;
  • Lean/ CI facilitators and coaches responsible for helping develop the problem-solving capabilities of others, including A3 creators;
  • Problem owners who have wondered why getting to an approved A3 takes so much talking and so many drafts.



Workshop Suggestions:
To maximize your learning experience we recommend that prior to attending this program you take following workshops or have a good understanding of the concepts presented within them.
Suggested Reading for this Workshop:
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Price: $800.00 ($700.00 if the participant is taking 2 or more workshops at one location)
Price includes all participant materials, breakfast, lunch and snacks each day

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Cancelation Policy
Our workshops are designed to cater to a limited number of participants.  If you must cancel a workshop registration, you will be given a full refund up to four weeks before the workshop.  A cancelation occuring within four weeks of the workshop will be subjected to a $350 cancelation fee.  LEI will not be held personally responsible for any incidental cost incurred (hotel, airfare, change fee, etc).  To cancel a workshop registration, please call LEI at (617) 871-2900.