Matt Wrye, a Lean Implementer that has a passion for continuous learning was my guest on the Business901 podcast, Developing a Learning A3 and the transcription, Developing a Learning A3 Transcription. We discussed using the tool of A3 for their learning reports. Below are several formats for your use. I recommend viewing one before reading the transcript or during the listening of the podcast.
Certainly in these days of information overload and web analytics we have more information than ever before to make our decisions with. I believe that this data is extremely important and needed to manage your company and your marketing. This data along with most financial data is all past tense. It tells a little of what will happen in the future or with our next marketing campaign per say. This data more importantly needs to be interpreted correctly and that relies on the basis of being a good problem solver. We think of themselves as the creative, free spirit and intuitive type. Most people are quite comfortable with, if not proud of their ability to analyze and solve problems. They generally do well at it or maybe they just adapt well to the outcomes that are driven by them.
The fact is that we error in our problem solving more often than we care to admit. We rely on trial and error as the most practical and effective means of problem solving. It has been that way since the beginning of time. Success is building on failures. You have to leave someone fail to learn. But how many of these are a result of bad luck or poor analysis.
The instinctive type approach is surprisingly rather closed to alternatives. As a result the outcome is frequently flawed or less effective than a structured approach. In The Thinker’s Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving book outlines six steps of the problem with intuitive problem solving:
- We commonly begin our analysis of a problem by formulating our conclusions; we thus start at what should be the end of the analytic process.
- Our analysis usually focuses on the solution which we intuitively favor; we therefore give inadequate attention to alternative solutions.
- The solution we intuitively favor is more often than not the first one that seems satisfactory.
- We tend to confuse “discussing/thinking hard” about a problem with “analyzing” it (these2 activities are not at all the same).
- We focus on the substance (evidence, arguments, and conclusions) and not on the process of our analysts.
- Most people are functionally illiterate when it comes to structuring their analysis.
If people have not learned and understood problem solving techniques, they cannot formulate a reasonable conclusion. It is a guess and a reaction based simply on intuition.
Marketing with A3 is my attempt to bring a problem solving methodology to sales and marketing. The book itself will not spawn a lean transformation or a significant culture change within your company. It is a workbook, that I would use to introduce and guide me through the A3 process. It provides a background on A3, explanation of terms and many of the tools of A3, questions that will facilitate discussion of each step in the A3, blank forms and ten sample A3s for reference. The samples included are:
- Direct Marketing Inbound and Outbound Calls
- Training Program Outline
- Sales Communication on a Promotion
- Gap Analysis of an Annual Advertising Campaign
- Churn Rate Gap Analysis
- Increasing Consulting bookings
- Gaining Control of Internal Costing structure
- Business Plan Analysis for Industrial Segment
- Increase in Workshop Attendance
- Increase in ROI of present Marketing Activities
Sales and Marketing not only needs to improve but must improve their problem solving skills. The book, Marketing with A3 is the introduction needed. It enables sales and marketing to use the Lean tool of A3 as a template or structured approach for their strategies and tactics. It will also demonstrate meaningful and measurable results of their activities. You will enter meetings armed with facts and profound knowledge of sales and marketing efforts. As a result, you will engage in more meaningful conversations. It will require a different approach. The dialogue is sometimes not easy. But seldom is any improvement.
Using a structured approach, such as the Lean thinking tool of A3, the mind remains open, enabling one to examine each element of the decision or problem separately or systematically, and sufficiently, ensuring that all alternatives are considered. The outcome is almost always more comprehensive and more effective than the instinctive approach.
Marketing with A3 is the author’s attempt to improve the problem-solving process of sales and marketing. Using A3 in the Marketing process will provide you a standard method of developing and creating your marketing programs. It will recap the thoughts, efforts and actions that take place for a particular campaign, such as advertising or public relations or even a launch. The tools are explained and examples are given.
The important part is that you will learn how to format your A3 report in any way that most effectively communicates your story to your team and others. An A3 report can really highlight the value that marketing supplies.The book contains ten A3 reports from five contributors.
This is not a strategy book. The book is designed to help you create and utilize A3 at a tactical level in a sales and marketing department.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Marketing with A3 Introduction
Chapter 2: Transforming to Marketing with A3s
Chapter 3: What is an A3?
Chapter 4: Using A3 in your Marketing Process
Chapter 5: Types of A3
Chapter 6: Description of the Components of A3
Chapter 7: Tools used in A3
Marketing with Lean Series
Appendix A: A3 Templates
Appendix B: A3 Examples