The power of practicing personal problem solving

Use PDSA or A3 thinking to improve yourself as a leader and coach.

I am a great believer in the power of personal reflection and using problem solving thinking to develop ourselves as Lean Leaders. Problem solving thinking (using the PDSA or A3 thinking process) can be applied in a variety of ways to work on self improvement.

Personal PDSA as applied to skill development

I’ve written about the personal A3/PDSA process in the Lean Post, and it was a key focus for the plenary talks and classes that I taught last month in Australia.

Practice A3 thinking on yourself. What are your gaps as a Lean leader?
Practice A3 thinking on yourself. What are your gaps as a Lean leader?

If you want to focus on improving your own capabilities or habits as a leader, I suggest going through the process outlined in the image above and described in more detail in the article I wrote for the Lean Post.

The personal A3 process can help you gain greater clarity on your leadership gaps and to become more intentional about improving your skills as a Lean leader. Create a plan and conduct short experiements for improvement. Focus on getting a little bit better every day.

Personal PDSA thinking applied to succession planning

Not only can personal PDCA thinking be helpful for improving one’s skills and habits, it can also be applied in thinking about career and succession planning.

At the Australasian Lean Thinking and Practice Summit in Melbourne, I appreciated hearing how Mark Reich, the COO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, has applied PDSA thinking to succession planning and career development. This process is a nice compliment to the personal A3 process I’ve described above. You can read more details of Mark’s practice in his article on the Lean Post. 

Mark posed that “your job is to work yourself out of a job”. Each of us should always be thinking about the next step in our careers, and to do so, you need to be developing both yourself and your successor.

Source: Mark Reich (this image can be found on the Lean Post article sited in the text).
Source: Mark Reich (this image can be found on the Lean Post article sited in the text).

I would also add, if you are a consultant, you want to make sure that you are developing capability in the people for whom you are working or coaching (not just giving them the answers).

Mark will be sharing his thinking on this topic at the Lean Coaching Summit in Seattle next month (July 2015).

Practicing problem solving thinking makes you a better coach of problem solving

Regardless of what problem you are trying to solve – including your own leadership and coaching capabilities or the next step in your career – applying problem solving thinking to yourself can be a great practice. We are all better coaches and leaders of problem solving when we have struggled with the thinking process ourselves!

What has helped you improve?

What practices have helped your improve personally as a Lean leader or coach? Please share your thoughts below.

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Katie Anderson
About Katie Anderson 106 Articles
Lean thinker and coach. Passionate about developing people. Healthcare change agent. Living in California again after 18 months in Tokyo. Writing about lean and leadership.