Managing Process Improvement Through A3 Thinking

Lean project management and traditional project management are not the same thing. On the surface both methods seem similar, but organizations that consider them to be interchangeable are standing on dangerous ground.

Traditional Project Management is more concerned with getting a project up and running. It works better for a one-time implementation of a new process. However, it lacks the tools to measure performance and implement solutions for improvement.

Lean is focused on Continuous Systematic Improvement. It studies how different components of a process are performing, and seeks to improve those that are lagging. What you might call a Lean “project” is only one phase in the improvement of that project.

Managing Process Improvement uses a value based approach to improve each component of a process. It insists on linking improvement activities to the voice of the customer, identifying key performance indicators, removing anything that does not add value to the process outcome, and creating flow by eliminating waste. It also continues to improve through tests of change and standardization of solutions so that when the process is handed off to the people who must manage it every day, it is effective and fully serves its purpose.

Lean uses A3 Thinking to manage process improvement. At its core A3 thinking is a way to identify, frame, and act on improvement initiatives, problems and challenges. This approach, which is captured in the simple structure of an A3 report, is “the key” to the Lean system of developing talent at all levels of an organization and creating a learning organization.

This is a necessary skill for any Lean Leader.

What You Cover

  • Lean Project management vs. traditional Project management: The difference
  • The three levels of improvement and how they are linked
  • Overview of improvement planning and implementation: The Reliable Method
  • Creating a Project Charter and plan: Tools and practices
  • Project team formation and running effective meetings
  • How to create a mapping, measurement and analysis plan
  • How to create an improvement plan
  • A3 Thinking: The glue that ties it all together
  • Creating a Favorable Environment: The People Factor
  • Taking It Back Home – Planning what you can do next

How You Benefit

  • Upon completion of this one-day course you will learn a reliable method for managing process improvement.
  • You will understand how to create a project charter
  • You will understand how to form a project team and run effective meetings
  • You will understand how to choose the right mapping method for your project and how to create a measurement plan
  • You will understand how to create an improvement plan
  • You will understand how to develop a reporting system for project management

Who Should Attend

  • It is recommended that attendees have already completed the Lean Practitioner series or an equivalent series of study
  • This workshop is appropriate for all industries
  • Executives, managers, supervisors, project managers, team leaders, and improvement coordinators will especially benefit from this workshop
  • Administrative personnel who own or participate in process development and execution


Tom Fabrizio

Andrea S. Jones (MS, MBA, PMP) has been consulting on Process Improvement and Project Management in Portland, OR since 2006 and is an associate member of the Northwest Center for Performance Excellence (NWCPE). She brings order to chaos in the initial project definition and scoping phases, and helps clients organize and structure projects for success. Andrea is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Leaders for Operations program, earning an MBA and Masters in Engineering with a focus on Lean Enterprise. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).