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Collection of A3 thinking related tweets from Stephen Parry

Collection of A3 thinking related tweets from Stephen Parry

I was recently preparing course material for an executive coaching program to develop A3 thinking within the management team. I found it difficult to put over very quickly the different behaviors and thinking Adaptive Lean and particularly the A3 thinking process brings about. Then I hit upon the idea of going back through all my tweets and collecting those related to the A3 thinking process. Feedback from the management team was positive and the collection brought greater insight to the coaching they received.  In the interest of sharing and promoting better management thinking here is the list. Please add your own as well.



thinking and feeling

A3 Thinking related tweets from Stephen Parry.

Trying to understand adaptive service from its parts is like trying to comprehend cakes from studying eggs, flour, sugar and fan assisted ovens.

There is a world of difference between helping people to see and telling them they are blind.

A3 Thinking is ALL about developing intelligence, not processes, methods or even solving problems.

You do not need eyes to see you need vision. Anon

Not having time for improvement is the biggest business case you can make for improvement. So stop using it as an excuse not to improve.

If you don’t have time for improvement it’s because you did not spend any time on improvement.

Thinking you can learn A3 thinking from a book is like thinking you can learn to drive by reading the Highway Code.

Define problems in the terms of the problem, NOT in terms of the solution.

At work, everyone thinks they know what the problems are, few know the causes fewer know how to solve them and fewer have the courage to try.

Transformation program’s that start with a solution, usually justify and define the problem through the lense of the solution

In companies, most people can tell you what’s wrong, fewer people can say why it’s wrong and even fewer know how to right the wrong

Bad management, competition without cooperation. Getting a bigger slice of the pie, but not making the pie bigger!

Management by walking around is not the same as going to gemba, you need to know what questions to ask, and stay long enough for an answer.

Your low hanging fruit has been taken by your competition a long time ago, you just haven’t noticed

We are being ruined by best efforts directed the wrong way. We need efforts directed by a theory of management. Deming

Zero defects and meeting specifications are not good enough, it’s how the system works overall that matters. Deming

If you can’t change the people change the system.

In today’s world you not only have to think outside your box but you must work outside your box

There has to be a clear line of sight between ALL the work you do and customer value

you can’t map the value stream unless you first know what value looks like from the customers perspective. 1st principle

Cherry picking always leaves you with sticky fingers!

90% of the Value Stream Maps show just the local departmental processes. You then optimise locally and make the value stream WORSE

If you measure your customer experience using averages don’t be surprised to find yourself delivering an average customer experience

Evolution is to blame, human mind wired to see patterns where there are none and favour correlations and false positives.

When a wise man points to the stars only a fool would look at his fingers. Anon

Consensus often creates a false sense of security and is no guarantee of being correct.

Creating choice, freedom and the power to do what matters creates change, nothing else.

Do not desire the wish to believe, rather foster the will to find out. Anon.

Sometimes the best you can hope for is lighting a small candle in the darkness, so others have the choice to stay or move forward.

Acceptable ideas are no longer competent and competent ideas are not yet acceptable. Stafford Beer

Even a fool knows more about his own house than the wise man who has never visited.

First you must open minds before you can open eyes.

Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. Anon

Those who complain about reductionism don’t really know what it means. -its to simplify theory to what works as a predictor and not beyond –

You can’t predict the action of water by studying its molecules, to do that we need another order of analysis that is fluid dynamics.

Often with patience, you can prise open closed minds to a new reality, but only if the mind is not welded shut by self-delusion.

Driven by open-minded curiosity, exploration, the joy of understanding, and the wonder and mystery about what we don’t yet know.

There is a world of difference between systems-thinking and building a Thinking-system.

Systems-thinking problem solving and building a thinking-system require very different levels of knowledge.

Problems start when open mindedness slips into empty mindedness.

Sure sign of management failure is reorganising management structures around themselves instead of reorganising the work around the customer.

People don’t join up the dots? Well sometimes they are just dots, don’t fool yourself into thinking the dots are joined up.

True, Science does not know everything, that’s why we have science, and it knows an awful lot more than anything else on the planet.

Try to argue as if you think you are right, not know you are right.

‘It is not that there are no certainties, it is that it is an absolute certainty that there are no certainties’ Hitch 22

Finish starting and start finishing.

Lean-six sigma is the very worst of both worlds.

‘what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence’

Changing the system is like changing transport, don’t ask a train driver to think like he driving an aeroplane and expect him to take off.

Progress is better than perfection.

Perfection is the perfect lie.

Perfection can only be measured against purpose, which can gradually change. So cut out perfection and always strive to stay on purpose.

Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.

How to lose your best knowledge workers: ensure the org is not committed to learning. No time to read, learn, share, discuss, improve.

The fuel of the adaptive  lean enterprise is trust, transparency and integrity.

Education is as much about revealing your level of ignorance as the acquisition of knowledge.

Data and facts from the customers perspective puts everyone at the same level on the org chart

When in power its easy to exercise power, but it takes real power to admit weakness.

Often people resist change because it robs them of something to complain about.

It is profoundly illogical to think you can change your organisational culture using your current organisational culture!

Silo thinking is an OUTCOME of someone designing silo organisations measurements, targets and budgets. Fire the designer. Don’t blame the staff.

When you have mastered the real A3 thinking process, you have one of the best Baloney detectors man can devise.

Management focuses on what they can control leaders focus on what needs to be influenced.

‘Science is like a blabber mouth who ruins a movie by telling you how it ends’ Ned Flanders, The Simpsons

Leadership is the art of creating possibilities in the face of reality. Quote Sense and Respond Book





Important Lean Mis-Conceptions Busted

Important Lean Mis-Conceptions Busted.

Lean Myths and Realities

1. You won’t find Lean in the tools and methods.

Lean benefits are not found in the tools, although you will use tools to help you on your lean transformation.  There are thousands of lean tools, because each problem requires its own unique tool to help solve it.  You won’t really be able to do lean with generic tools, you’ll have to devise and adapt your own tools – for that you need scientific and critical thinking skills coupled with an understanding of Lean principles. Basically you have to learn to THINK differently and see your customers and business differently, that’s people development, not tools development.

2. Lean is not about optimising waste is about optimising value.

This is one of the hardest things about getting started with Lean.  Lean will require you to take a radically different view of the work you are doing. Almost certainly, much of what you are doing now is not really work, it’s waste. Processing the waste faster, or more effectively isn’t  Lean. All you get with that is Cheaper, Neater Faster, Waste. = Madness.  Your current thinking prevents you from seeing the high levels of real waste, which is caused the way you  previously designed the work.

3. Lean is not about managers fixing everything it’s about the staff owning and solving problems.

As a manager in a lean organisation, your role will be very different from one in a more traditional organisation.  Your job is not to know the answers.  Your job will be one of supporting the people who are doing the work to gather information about what is really going on.  You’ll also need to know how to look for what’s really there, and present this information without varnish to other managers and staff.  You may have to build a very different culture for your organisation.

4. Lean is not only about processes it’s about the whole service model.

Processes link the systems, performance and structure of your organisation.  Process improvement is a good thing, but not the whole story.  Companies often use processes to ‘wire-up’ their organisation like the wiring in an automobile, but hasn’t the time has come to trade in your old Model T Ford? it will not go any faster even with new wiring. Making improvements to processes alone will not yield the fundamental transformation that Lean can deliver.

5. Lean not about efficiency at all costs it’s about effectiveness at the right cost.

This is one of the biggest myths that  Lean needs to overcome.  Lean isn’t about cutting costs and doing things faster, although cost reductions and service improvements will result from a Lean transformation. Lean focuses on  the customers purpose. In a Lean organisation you won’t be focused exclusively on measures like first time fix, or time average resolution time or whatever.  You’ll know what the customer values, and you will be looking at the evidence that shows you how you are helping your customer achieve their goals.

These notes are from a recent Sense and Respond Lean in IT workshop in London with Stephen Parry.

The Art of Possibility by Ben Zander. Book Review by Stephen Parry

The Art of Possibility by Ben Zander. Book Review by Stephen Parry

There is no change without leadership at all levels. This book is a good introduction into the principles of transformational leadership. Creating Possibilities for others such that they are touched moved and inspired. The leadership theory is based on leading oneself not others and focuses on who you are being not what you are doing. This is not a book about manipulative Machiavellian techniques rather it’s about creating free choice for others where they are inspired by the possibility you have created.

Reinspiring the Corporation by Mark C. Scott. Book Review by Stephen Parry

Reinspiring the Corporation by Mark C. Scott. Book Review by Stephen Parry

Reinspire book

This review is for: Reinspiring the Corporation: The Seven Seminal Paths to Corporate Greatness [Hardcover]

It is clear that Mark Scott is passionate about people, this book contains a framework intended to put people back at the heart of the organisation.

If you were to take Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y model, this is clearly a Theory Y Book, in that he believes people are the lifeblood of the organisation and you need to create social systems that treat them as people and not as mere parts of a big machine.

It is a Hearts and Minds approach and one that I subscribe to wholeheartedly, the difficulty lies in bringing these ideas home to the Theory X people. This book brings hope to many people who yearn for greater workplace autonomy, creativity, innovation, leadership and empowerment.


Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk Transcript


The Grant Talks

Even though many of us work in a world of analysis, data and detailed measurements, Grant never forgot what it was all for, he challenged everyone to help people do better work, improve themselves along with their companies and societies, to realise their human potential to create possibilities for a better life.

So how do we respond to his challenge? How can we influence companies who are simply concerned with shareholder capital without respect for human capital starting with the software development business?

The Grant Rule Trust. The Trust will be seeking to promulgate the insights into effective business practice discovered or inspired by Grant through a series of “Grant Talks”


 By Stephen Parry

Author of Sense and Respond

Grant Rule Memorial Talk Number One    

UK Software Metrics Association 23rd Annual Conference: 21st Century Metrics


Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Social Capital

I want to make this notion of ‘social capital’ and changing the lives of people by changing the work environment, particularly software development and IT environments, the main theme for today.

When discussing software development, Grant talked about issues like technical debt, he worked very hard to reduce it by creating and teaching methods to produce software products that worked with little or no rework, that meet the needs of customers and the business.  When he did so, he kept stressing that the work climate needed to foster respect for people, create a blame-free approach and even eradicate fear in the workplace.  This way, software developers could become creative, innovative and adaptive.

Purposeful measurement

Unfortunately, software and IT measurement and development methods in the hands of a particular management style and approach, ones that tend to treat knowledge work as if it were a commodity, is sadly all too common.  Often there are well-intentioned managers who use software and IT measures for the wrong purposes, applying them in order to create work intensification, to assign blame and target under-performing staff.  The wrong measurement applied for the wrong reasons in the wrong way often results in the wrong people being placed in the wrong……. read more….

Download the full transcription here.Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk transcript

Flawed Advice and the Management Trap by Chris Argyris. Book Review by Stephen Parry

Flawed Advice and the Management Trap by Chris Argyris. Book Review by Stephen Parry

Good Advice is in the eye of the beholder

Let me start by saying this book is much needed by the management community, whether the world of management realises it or not is another question.

The book describes a method for the application of scepticism to management claims and theories, it provides a structure which exposes the logical fallacies inherent in much of what I call pseudo-management ideas.

As a critical thinking primer it works very well, but it will take quite a bit of study and practice to master the ideas to a level which can be applied ad-hoc at management meetings. That said it is something which should become a basic skill for all managers. I suspect managers who like to think about ‘why’ they think the way they do will readily warm to these ideas.

Chris Argyris realises that the management school of ‘Command and Control’ has created a climate which does not foster critical thinking (for lots of reasons too long to go into here) … learning to think clearly is ultimately what this book is all about, often better thinking, leads to better decisions and better organisations.

So where is the flaw in this book about Flaws? it assumes managers want to deconstruct command and control structures to allow them more freedom to think and criticise the status-quo, Alas too many are contented with the way it is. For those managers who want to change this is a great book. The Flaws are only flaws if you want to change.

I highly recommend this book.