Wrestling with A3’s?

Creating an A3 is a common way to solve problems. It is widely used at Toyota and is therefore popular in Lean Training and Lean Implementations.

It can often be a struggle

A few years ago I coached a number of students who were working on their “Introduction to Lean Management”. What a challenge that turned out to be! I have often thought of teaching them an alternative, based on the Toyota Kata approach. Over the past years I have seen this work so much better, but it wasnn’t in the curriculum so the students had to make an A3…. and both the students and I wrestled with it.

The challenge I saw in those students is the same struggle I see in organizations. Often, a lot of time is spent generating an A3 that covers an entire project plan  on one sheet of paper. It does not take long and font sizes are reduced …

Despite the good intentions, using an A3 in this way does not always deliver the desired clarity, direction and action. If we don’t watch out, we spend more time on the A3 than actually looking for solutions to the problem.

Often the form is more important than the content …

Problem solving is not easy. It is therefore important that creating an A3 does not divert attention from actually solving the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, making an A3 is a great way to gain and share insights about a problem to be solved, but it requires practice to do it properly. If you do not have that much experience with it or receive insufficient guidance, it will soon become (too) difficult.

It can be (much) easier

In recent years I have worked a lot with Toyota Kata and it’s proven to be a much more accessible way to solve problems. People learn it quickly because it makes so much sense to them.  I also use an A3 sheet of paper but with a different layout. The layout contains only 6 sections and is a further development of the Toyota Kata Storyboard.

  • It helps to see what is already there.
  • It helps to see what is missing.
  • It helps to see what is unnecessary.
  • It helps to determine which question you can ask the best at any time.
  • The interaction becomes much more natural.
  • As a coach or manager you almost automatically enter a coaching role.
  • Can also be used in meetings to organize notes.

The shift in energy has been incredible!

Webinar and Distant Coaching

In recent years I have been developing and teaching this new approach during live meetings and in one-to-one and one-to-many coaching sessions. Progress of my students has been amazing.

Following the success of applying this approach, my colleague David Bovis and I now want to take the provision of this beneficial approach to the next level. We want to make this accessible for all people around the globe. This is the approach we are planning:

  • give several webinars that resemble our live training program
  • turn those webinars into e-course, providing accessibility beyond our own time constraints
  • provide distant coaching to optimize mutual use of time and reduce costs


We will start with a series of webinars resembling our live training program for small groups (6-12 people). We plan to record these webinars so we can turn the video material into an e-course. This is the webinar outline we are working on:

  • First webinar where we will teach you the basics of the storyboard [30 mins]
  • Assignment for first practice with storyboard [30 mins]
  • First webinar continued to discuss first assignment [30 mins]
  • Each participant creates and submits a first draft storyboard on a selected topic [1 week]
  • Second webinar to evaluate several storyboards [90 mins]
  • Each participant creates and submits a second draft storyboard [1 week]
  • Third webinar to evaluate several storyboards [90 mins]

Price per participant €200


With the material of the webinars we will create an e-course. The outline of the e-course will be similar to the webinars. Currently we are thinking about two versions:

  • Entry level “watch only” version at €75
  • A “hot seat” version at €200

In the “hot seat” version we will discuss your storyboard  twice so you get personal feedback.

Distant coaching

It will take practice and regular feedback to master the craft. We will provide a 3 month coaching program with weekly 30 minutes one-on-one video conference meetings where we will guide you in the use of the storyboard and help you make progress in solving a business issue.

Price per participant €1250

Coach the coach

Initially we will do the coaching ourselves. Over time other coaches may take over. This will provide the opportunity to be coached as a coach.

Conditions to be defined.