Capture Knowledge using the A3 Lean Thinking Process


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When using A3s in marketing or for that matter anywhere within the organization has flourished in the last few years and has become one of them most popular Lean Tools. It is being used as reports, proposals but primarily as a problem solving tool. What I think makes the A3 so powerful is that it gives you a way to capture knowledge.

We talk about Knowledge Creation within a company and it seems to be one of those discussions at the 50,000 foot level that is better off left to consultants and authors. It always sounds great but it rarely is something that can be used at a practical level. The problem you typically have is that you do not have a formalize way to document and share the knowledge created. The A3 process allows you to do that. But you must make sharing this knowledge part of your A3 process. If you do this the A3 will remain live and may become the process that is used for knowledge creation within the company. Following are some guidelines to consider when you are getting ready to “close-out” an A3:

  1. Identify the other people to include customers for this knowledge. Who may benefit from the knowledge acquired during this A3 process? You must look at this as a knowledge asset and who may benefit from this now and in the future.
  2. Provide additional clarity to this A3 if needed. What is the scope of your A3 and what specific areas in your organization does it support? What specific areas external to your organization may it provide value?
  3. Organize any existing material upon which you based your A3. Provide additional framework so that people can understand the purpose and relevance of the material. Store the knowledge in a space where it can be accessed by its community. Often this will mean the company intranet. Tip: If you create the document electronically make sure you tag it for people to find it easily.
  4. Identify a community of practice relating to this A3. The community will be the sources of the knowledge who can validate what took place or the interpretations of the document in greater detail. Typically, this will be the A3 team members but include others that were affected. Especially customers who can prove to be invaluable as the document grows.
  5. Create links to the person’s personal home page and/or e-mail address wherever you mention them in the text.
  6. Initiate a feedback and ownership process. Encourage feedback from users, so that they pick up and eliminate any invalid recommendations. Instill a sense of obligation that “if you use it, then you should add to it”. (My Favorite)
  7. The A3s could be a basis of a Wiki on your company intranet which would allow the creation and editing of any number of interlinking pages and notes.

Why A3? An A3 does not work in isolation. It is just as much a team building exercise as it is a problem solving tool. The A3 document facilitates a way for you to share knowledge and solve a problem. When completed it is not something to be filed away and “closed” out. Utilizing your A3s in your organization has tremendous value. The use of one format for problem solving, reports, proposals and knowledge creation allows for others to work on the content, not the document. You will minimize the learning curve substantially. Why not create an A3 to determine how knowledge might be shared in your organization?

Book Reference: Learning to Fly

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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