Core Learning

A3 Problem Solving and Continuous Improvement for Cores


The Research Resource Program (RRP) and the Program Management Office (PMO) have teamed up to provide an excellent learning opportunity for Core Leaders and Administrators to gain experience with a repeatable process for problem solving. This 5-session series primarily focuses on offering practice with the A3 Thinking structure to develop and one’s own problem solving skills (as applied to a real-world core situation) while also refreshing leaders on basic core Lean principles and concepts.

Participants will use a real life problem from their day-to-day work to practice the skills they learn and by the end of the series will have an A3 improvement plan. The design of this 5-part course is intended to maximize the ability of participants to put what they are learning into practice.  Rather than a single all day workshop, which you don’t have time to put into practice on returning to your workplace, you will apply the skills as you learn them in each workshop. The course will consist of four 2.5 hour workshops, a final review session to help participants finalize their improvement plan and a pre-workshop 1:1 session to help identify a problem area. Light homework between each session will require minimal time commitment and you will work with a partner to encourage completion. Coaching office hours will also be available between sessions for any questions and to help keep you on track (optional) 

Cost: Participants receive full sponsorship from the RRP by indicating interest in the link below (valued at $1,800 per participant, including required materials).

To indicate your interest please fill out this quick form: Sign up here 

To help offer you a sense for the workshop’s design:

  • Number of sessions: 5
  • Location: May vary based on participants
  • In-Class Time (per session): 2.5 hrs
  • Homework (between sessions): 1-2 hrs
  • Optional Office Hours with A3 Coach: as needed, up to 4 hours

Total: 25-30* hours over 7 weeks

*The actual time commitment will largely depend on the scope/size of the problem being worked on and the desired learning experience of the participant.

Course Outline:


Pre-workshop 1:1: Participants will identify an improvement/learning project

Session 1:  “Overview of Lean and A3 Thinking”  (2.5 Hours)

  • Learn/refresh understanding of Basic Lean principles 
  • Overview of A3 Thinking and begin work on Problem Statement
  • Homework: Reading and thinking with learning partner, attend coaching office hours if needed

Session 2:  “Grasping the Situation” (2.5 Hours)

  • Draft components of A3: Title, Background, Problem Statement, Goal Statement
  • Value Stream Mapping to help assess current state
  • Homework: “Go see” (going to the Gemba) and debrief with learning partner, attend coaching office hours if needed

Session 3:   “Gap Analysis / Root Cause Thinking” (2.5 Hours)

  • Root cause thinking tools
  • Coaching on specific challenges
  • Homework: Next iteration of A3, attend coaching office hours if needed

Session 4:   “Catchball and Asking Effective Questions” (2.5 Hours)

  • Catchball and Asking Effective Questions
  • In-class coaching clinic, develop next iteration of thinking
  • A3 example for group learning
  • Homework: Next iteration of A3 for review session, attend coaching office hours if needed

Case work Review of A3s:   “My Problem Story”

  • Participants describe their problem story to catchball panel for additional input