May 4 2018
These students are replacing theses with A3s | H. van der Werk | Planet Lean
“INTERVIEW – In this Dutch university (Avans), lean is not only taught in the classroom. A3s are now replacing the writing of a thesis as the final assignment students are asked to complete. […] This 20-week project is part of the last year’s workload. The company comes up with a problem (based on their needs) that the student will be asked to solve, and we at Avans gauge whether there is enough depth to the problem for it to qualify as a final project. […] The standard tool we use to document the learning and map the project is the A3 methodology. Starting this year, students will no longer be required to write a thesis. The A3 will take its place.”
Sourced through Planet Lean
Michel Baudin‘s comments: This interview raises the questions of whether it is a good idea to replace theses with A3s, and for a university to align itself with Lean.
A3s versus Reports
First, Avans University is not a small institution: it has three campuses in the Netherlands, 30,000 students, and a 200-year history. That it’s doing away with the requirement of a 40-page final report in its graduation requirements is no small matter.
Van der Werk’s rationale for it is that “[these] reports are not something that students will ever be asked to produce on the job.” Be that as it may, does it necessarily follow that they should be replaced by A3s as graduation requirements?
Nov 7 2018
Where Problem-Solving Goes Wrong | Gregg Stocker | Lessons in Lean
“[…] Whenever someone asks for input on a problem-solving A3, I tend to look for the red flags or areas in each section where help is most commonly needed. The key is to help people understand that the process is about investigating, reflecting, and learning, not filling in the form. It is far too common, especially early in a person’s development, to force-fit information into the boxes just to appease someone else and show that the process was followed. […]”
Sourced through Lessons in Lean
Michel Baudin‘s comments: Companies use forms to make teams answer every question. Filling out forms, however, often degenerates into the formalism Gregg describes. Instead of reviewing content, managers just check that the team has entered something in every box.
Gregg also says nothing about immediate countermeasures to “stop the bleeding.” Assume, for example, that customers start returning defectives. The first step is to prevent more defectives from escaping. Meanwhile, you investigate root causes, implement permanent solutions, and validate them. The point of the process is to go beyond immediate countermeasures and dismantle them once they are no longer useful.
By Michel Baudin • Blog clippings • 2 • Tags: A3, problem-solving