All too often, people create countermeasures to perceived problems without digging deeper, asking the right questions, and thinking more.

Learning to grasp the actual situation is paramount to identifying root cause(s) of the problem and solving it.

Throughout the entirety of the course, we use a case example to illustrate the problem-solving approach as you are learning. In addition, you will deepen your understanding by applying this new way of thinking to a problem of your choice.

This course breaks down lean problem-solving concepts and techniques into simple, easily understood pieces.

Learning Objectives

This course works for people new to the concepts of lean and continuous improvement, for individuals looking to improve their lean understanding and skills, and for organizations wanting to level set the lean knowledge of their workforce to speed progress.

  • Build a foundational understanding of problem types and problem solvingIdentify the four types of problems

  • Resolve business challenges by using scientific method, PDCA-based problem solving

  • Apply A3 thinking to solve problems

  • Clearly define problems, beginning with grasping the situation at gemba

  • Learn to break down vague problems to specific problems that can be solved to root cause

Time Estimates Per Unit*

*Actual times may vary.

Unit 1: Problem Solving 45 minutes
Unit 2: What is an A3? 2 hours
Unit 3: Creating Your A3 6.5 hours
Work-based Activities 10+ hours
Total ~19.5 Hours


Senior Instructor

John Shook

John Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and other operations around the world. While at Toyota's headquarters, he became the company's first American kacho (manager) in Japan. In the U.S., Shook joined Toyota’s North American engineering, research and development center in Ann Arbor, Michigan as general manager of administration and planning. His last position with Toyota was as senior American manager with the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, Kentucky, assisting North American companies adopt the Toyota Production System.

Shook co-authored Learning to See, the book that introduced the world to value-stream mapping. He also co-authored Kaizen Express, a bi-lingual manual of the essential concepts and tools of the Toyota Production System. With Managing to Learn, Shook revealed the deeper workings of the A3 management process that is at the heart of Toyota’s management and leadership.

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