Managing to Learn: The Use of the A3 Management Process

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...

Management, Other

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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.

First participants will explore the requirements of sound A3 thinking and management by following the stages of learning illustrated 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. This occurs as he is coached on his problem solving and A3 thinking by his boss and mentor. He steadily uses the knowledge he is learning to revise his initial “jump-to-a-solution” A3 into an effective PDCA story. Participants will 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.

Second participants will have the opportunity to develop their own eyes and ears to recognize effective A3 stories. They will describe the problem-solving thinking that is required in each section of the A3 for the PDCA story it tells to be effective. Participants will read several A3s and discuss how they would coach the authors to improve them. They will then be given final versions of the A3s and asked to determine if they are more effective and why they are more effective than the originals.

Third participants will create the Title, Background, Current Situation, Goal, Analysis, and Recommendations sections of an A3 for a problem-solving responsibility in their own work. Participants are asked to bring real A3s they are already working on for this exercise, or they may begin a new one during the class. They will work in small groups to read, discuss, and evaluate each other’s A3s. They will coach each other as authors of their respective A3s offering guidance to consider ways their PDCA stories could be improved.

Fourth participants will learn various forms and uses of the A3 format. Examples from Managing to Learn will be highlighted, along with others. Topics that will be examined include:

Basic types of A3 stories and how the format differs for each
Role that A3 plays in the nemawashi 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