Managing to Learn: The Use of the A3 Management Process (2 Day Class)
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)
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 tool
"I really enjoyed attending your class this week. You had a great presentation style, engaging content, and I was frankly blown away by your expertise. Thanks for making it a memorable experience."
- Michael Egan,
Branch Director, PSAV
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
Prefer not to travel?
- You can also take this class remotely. Find out more here.
Are You Having Problems with Your Problem-Solving? By Tracey Richardson
Here are some useful questions to ask about how you approach problems. Following them may help you avoid some common mistakes and form better habits. Read more »
How Do I Start My A3?? By David Verble
When asked "where do I start to write my A3," David Verble responds "don't start by writing. " His piece, the first in a series about getting started, offers lessons he has learned about the nature of thinking, and a productive way to start the A3 by recognzing it as a thinking process.Read more »
Don't Present Your A3: Share Your A3 By Eric Ethington
A3 Coach Eric Ethington explains why he encourages people to share rather than present their A3s--and explains the reasons why this distinction helps foster productive teamwork and learning.Read more »
An A3 is a “visual manifestation of a problem-solving thought process involving continual dialogue between the owner of an issue and others in an organization.”
It is important to know that an A3 is not a fill in the blank exercise. It is an approach to problem solving, aligning groups and companies, as well as a way of thinking.
- Eric Ethington
- Karen Gaudet
- Josh Howell
- Mark Reich
- Ernie Richardson
- Tracey Richardson
- John Y. Shook
- David Verble
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