A3 thinking: separating the noise from the wisdom

You know the conundrum well. Perhaps too well. 

There’s a steady flow of data and information coming to you from a myriad of sources. And after perusing and assessing all of it, you’ve got to make a decision.

How much of that info is just noise and how much really useful?

The answer lies is in adapting an A3 process; providing a structured problem-solving mindset to guide you and your staff to the best solution.

First developed at Toyota, A3 Thinking is a structured process has come to be applied to just about any management problem. It is especially effective at helping understand and solve complex, cross-functional, and chronic problems.

The A3 Thinking process helps you:

  • Make rapid, iterative steps toward improvement and problem solving
  • Surface issues and problems in a way that avoids blaming individuals
  • Cut through the noise and/or misleading information to get the facts
  • Be clear with your team about priorities and responsibilities
  • Quickly develop a problem solving mindset in your staff to take responsibility for improvement

At Lloyd-Parry, we engage with companies at all levels to demonstrate just how effective A3 is in empowering management environments to move ahead smartly and quickly when sourcing solutions.

If you are interested in A3 I will be participating in a workshop for Managers in May in Budapest. Here are the details.


  • Date: 12 May 2016 – 13 May 2016
  • Price: 1090,- EUR + VAT / participant
  • Early price: 990,- EUR + VAT / participant, when paid until 14 Apr 2016

Register by clicking here. 

Parry Presenting 4

Is your organisation built for people or processes?

We can design adaptive, innovative and engaging organisations for employees, managers and leaders. And yet most companies don’t bother.

Why? The reason is simple. It’s much easier to put in place stringent rules and processes rather than create a culture of adaptability.

This is a problem because what you are essentially doing is building your organisation around how tasks must be completed, rather than asking why they are completed that way.

Recently I spoke to an audience in Kiev at the Agile Eastern Europe conference on Breaking Through The Wall: Designing organisations that work for Lean and Agile thinking people.

During this talk I explored what happens when a Lean or Agile program hits ‘the-wall’ in an organisation. How it leads to a decline in creativity and keeps innovators from innovating.

The solution I provided was simple enough: management needs to focus more on developing creativity, innovation and disciplined experimentation to continually solve efficiency, effectiveness and any other problem the organisation encounters.

As I was bucking against some accepted Agile orthodoxy, I was prepared for some push-back. But what I received instead was enthusiastic acceptance of my research-based and academically vetted proposals.

Indeed, after my talk, I was approached by one of the attendees to speak on the same topic at an upcoming conference.

If you are interested in discussing my approach or would like to bring me in to speak to your organisation please do not hesitate to reach out.

Stephen Parry

Author of Sense and Respond: The Journey to Customer Purpose
(Palgrave Macmillan 2005)


There’s no change without management ownership

Change programs are generally very popular with upper management types. And the pattern is almost always the same; they pick one, implement it – including its almost requisite goals for employee empowerment and resultant employee productivity – and then sit back and pat themselves on the back: Mission accomplished.

And long after the dust settles everyone goes back to the way they’ve always done things these managers can claim at their next evaluation how they are dynamic leaders intent on Organizational Change (capitals mine).

Of course, in the wake of the flurry of memos about the impending changes, new processes and ways of thinking, something very curious happens.

Specifically, nothing.

Why doesn’t anything change? There are many reasons. But most often it’s because the leader expected everyone else to do the changing without providing any meaningful direction.

It reminds me of the Ross Perot story. Back in the 80s he sold his EDS company to GM, who were looking for a taste of the then-au courant dynamic organizational culture the company was famed for. Perot drove himself to work, ate in the cafeteria with the employees and walked the lines talking to his workers. At the time, this blurring of the corporate culture lines was revolutionary.

Famously, the experiment failed, because GM management only wanted the cache of change, not actual change itself. Within a year or so Perot left the company and management welcomed the perks of power – company drivers and executive dining rooms.

The clear takeaway then, as it is today, is change isn’t a store-shelf product that can be installed out of a box. It has to be built. More importantly the person who initiates the change, must also own the change.

And if top management does not own the change, the only real results will be a few heavily padded CVs.