Guess what, KaiZone Community? You emailed, clicked and commented . . . and I took note! You said, “make The KaiZone more interactive!” Done. You said, “Leanable Moments are a hit. Give me more!” You got it. You said, “Your articles are too long! It’s a blog, not a novel!” My bad. I’ll keep it short and sweet . . . at least for today.
The number one request that I’ve received since starting The KaiZone is to share the form – known in Lean organizations as an A3 report – which I use for my Leanable Moments series of posts. If you are not familiar with the term, the A3 report is the primary vehicle used to teach and practice the problem solving methodology within a Lean organization. For a much more detailed overview of the A3 management process, I highly recommend that you read the book, Managing to Learn by John Shook and Jim Womack. Alternately, head over to YouTube and check out the terrific A3 overview videos from Karen Martin or from Gemba Academy.
Free, Downloadable A3 Report Templates
Now, you can make your own Leanable Moments, and start eliminating the waste from your lives, using the free problem solving A3 templates located on the new Free Downloads page. To download a copy, simply click on the text links above the image to open the file in the .pdf format. On the page, you will find two different A3 report templates. The Problem Solving A3 Template has been designed for you to practice the Lean problem solving methodology on the problems that you encounter in your everyday life. The second was inspired by my previous post, Leanable Moment #2: Problem Solving Skills for Your Children. You can use the Problem Solving with Kids A3 Template to practice and to develop much needed problem solving skills with your children or students.
Make Your Own Leanable Moment Contest
I started The KaiZone with the purpose of helping others to bring Lean thinking into their business and personal lives. I know firsthand the power of problem solving and my primary motivation is to develop The KaiZone into a platform that helps you to continually eliminate the things that get in the way of your happiness and your success. To encourage you to start your own Lean journey, I am announcing the official kickoff to the ‘Make Your Own Leanable Moment’ contest. The rules are simple:
- Use one of The KaiZone problem solving A3 templates as a guide to solve a problem in your life. Any problem, no matter how big or how small, will suffice! The main objective is to practice the pattern of Lean thinking and to develop your skills as a problem solver.
- Send to me a scanned copy or clear picture of the completed A3 report. You can email it to email@example.com, or message it to me on LinkedIn or Twitter @TheKaiZone. Include a brief overview of the problem you solved and the results you delivered in your message.
- Submissions will be accepted through May 31st, 2014.
- In early June, I will post a gallery of the submissions on TheKaiZone.com at which time you, TheKaiZone Community, will vote for your favorite Leanable Moment.
- The winner will receive a free copy of the book, Managing to Learn by John Shook and Jim Womack.
Please share the link to the contest with anyone who may be interested in developing the skills needed to improve their business success or personal happiness. Organizations that are beginning their Lean journey can also use it as an opportunity to have some fun while getting practice at problem solving.
A3 Hints and Tips
If you’ve never completed an A3 report, here are three tips for getting the most out of the problem solving process and for maximizing your learning potential:
- The Best A3s are Ugly! Too often, I see A3 reports that are works of PowerPoint art. While they may look professional, they often miss the mark on the true purpose of the A3. The value of the A3 report is not created on paper, but in the mind of the person doing the problem solving. Because of the experimental nature of Lean thinking, we are constantly adding new knowledge, eliminating failed hypotheses and updating our view of how the world works. As a result, the A3 report should be used as a living document that is updated frequently to reflect the current knowledge of the situation. Forget the PowerPoint. Use pencil, erase frequently, update as new knowledge is gained and don’t worry if it doesn’t look pretty. Real problem solving rarely is!
- The Best A3s are Visual! Simply put, pictures convey more information than words, and they convey that information more effectively. Moreover, as I previously wrote about, the act of drawing significantly enhances the extent to which we learn when solving problems. Be creative and seek ways to draw what you are learning instead of writing lengthy descriptions.
- The Best A3s Tell a Story! Stories, by their very nature, must be cohesive. The outcome of one event must feed in directly to the next event. In the end, we are able to connect the dots, tracing the development of the plot line from the start to its final resolution. The same characteristics are desired when solving a problem. Problem solving is a process of thought, and the logical connections we make between the phases of the problem should add up to a clear, and logical story in the end. Furthermore, the very act of storytelling is extremely beneficial to what we learn from problem solving. Telling a story activates many, deep regions within our brains – the same regions that would be active if we were actually experiencing the events of the story – which significantly enhances our learning potential.
If you have any questions about the contest, please feel free to post them in the comments section below, or use the Contact the KaiZone link at the top of the page. Good luck!