One of the ways we help companies develop a learning culture is through the collaborative Personal A3 process. The Personal A3 helps employees take ownership of their career development and increases the amount of feedback from their peers and managers.
The Personal A3 is based on the standard A3 process developed by Toyota to encourage empirical learning. A3s identify a problem, analyze root causes, and propose solutions to encourage continuous improvement. They are typically hand-written on A3 paper (16.5 by 11.7 inches) to easily share with others and obtain feedback, and to limit the amount space available and focus the analysis. The book Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor and Lead by John Shook and Jim Womack is an excellent primer on the process.
Employees develop Personal A3s to encourage them to think strategically about their strengths and passions in order to develop a career roadmap to track and plan career improvement activities. Ultimately, it encourages employees to continuously improve their skills. Employees select mentors and partners to help facilitate the process and provide feedback.
Ownership Employees are empowered through the Personal A3 process to seek out a career path that is not bound by their current role or dictated by their manager. Most importantly, they are able to sketch a career path that matches their strengths and passions. We often find that employees with a sense of ownership over their career development are more satisfied with their jobs and are ultimately more productive on the job.
Feedback The Personal A3 process establishes a learning feedback loop that allows employees to learn about themselves as they ponder their strengths and passions. Mentors and partners provide feedback throughout the process. As an individual’s career roadmap is implemented, progress toward action items and specific goals are measured and the Personal A3 is revised frequently to reflect learning and progress. Receiving feedback and applying lessons learned are essential for continuous learning.
The Personal A3 is not the only way to create a learning culture. But we find that it’s an effective way to introduce employees to the A3 process, to collaboratively identify and solve complex problems, and to assist them in taking ownership of their career progression and learning from feedback they receive from their peers and managers.
Print out a Personal A3 template to get started!
Read How Can I Develop the Ability to Collaborate?, the Q&A article in Better Software Magazine on which this blog post was based.