This Date in 1517 – The Original A3?


Exactly 500 years ago today, Martin Luther famously nailed a document to a church door that pointed out problems and ideas for change and reform.

He packed a lot into a single page.

Was this, in a way, the first “A3” problem solving document?

Maybe not.

But you can learn more about A3s from John Shook of LEI:

John Shook on A3 Reports in Sloan Management Review

What needs reforming in the Lean world these days? Not that Lean is a religion… Lean isn't a matter of faith.

Last year, in China, somebody asked me, “Is Lean a religion?” I answered it is not.

Sometimes people use terms like “the Gospel of Lean,” but I don't think that's a great analogy (nor will that resonate with all people).

p.s. I had this drawing done in 2012 with the idea of posting it today on the 500th anniversary… but I almost forgot. I should error proof against mistakes like that.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Hank Balch says

    Aw, come on Mark, you don’t consider yourself a Lean-evangelist? ;)

    1. Mark Graban says

      I should admit it was your post on LinkedIn today that reminded me of this drawing, Hank.

  2. Michel Baudin says

    Luther nailing 95 theses to the Wittenbeg church would be a great story if true. The consensus of historians, however, is that it never happened.

    1. Mark Graban says

      Yes, some say he would have glued it to the door.

  3. Hamdi says

    How we can make an adaptation for A3 in Russia?

    1. Mark Graban says

      I’m guessing that people have used A3s in Russia… how would you have to adapt it other than the language used?

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