A3 Templates for Backbriefing and Experimenting

I’ve been meaning to share a couple of A3 templates that I’ve developed over the last year or so while I’ve been using Strategy Deployment. To paraphrase what I said when I described my thoughts on Kanban Thinkingwe need to create more templates, rather than reduce everything down to “common sense” or “good practice”. In other words, the more A3s and Canvases there are, the more variety there is for people to choose from, and hopefully, the more people will think about why they choose one over another. Further, if people can’t find one that’s quite right, I encourage them to develop their own, and then share it so there is even more variety and choice!

Having said that, the value of A3s is always in the conversations and collaborations that take part while populating them. They should be co-created as part of a Catchball process, and not filled in and handed down as instructions.

Here are the two I am making available. Both are used in the context of the X-Matrix Deployment Model. Click on the images to download the pdfs.

Backbriefing A3

Backbriefing A3

This one is heavily inspired by Stephen Bungay’s Art of Action. I use it to charter a team working on a tactical improvement initiative. The sections are:

  • Context – why the team has been brought together
  • Intent – what the team hopes to achieve
  • Higher Intent – how the team’s work helps the business achieve its goals
  • Team – who is, or needs to be, on the team
  • Boundaries – what the team are or are not allowed to do in their work
  • Plan – what the team are going to do to meet their intent, and the higher intent

The idea here is to ensure a tactical team has understood their mission and mission parameters before they move into action. The A3 helps ensure that the team remain aligned to the original strategy that has been deployed to them.

The Plan section naturally leads into the Experiment A3.

Experiment A3

Experiment A3

This is a more typical A3, but with a bias towards testing the hypotheses that are part of Strategy Deployment. I use this to help tactical teams in defining the experiments for their improvement initiative. The sections are:

  • Context – the problem the experiment is trying to solve
  • Hypothesis – the premise behind the experiment
  • Rationale – the reasons why the experiment is coherent
  • Actions – the steps required to run the experiment
  • Results – the indicators of whether the experiment has worked or not
  • Follow-up – the next steps based on what was learned from the experiment

Note that experiments can (and should) attempt to both prove and disprove a hypothesis to minimise the risk of confirmation bias. And the learning involved should be “safe to fail”.

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2 comments on “A3 Templates for Backbriefing and Experimenting

  1. Hi Karl,
    thanks for the templates, very useful!
    I‘ve two questions/comments on the backbriefing template:
    1) I don‘t understand the explanation of intent (“how the team proposes to approach solving the problem”). In my understanding intent is related to goals (“what do we want to achieve?”) and not so much with the means (“how are we going to to that?”) ?
    2) In my experience the “why” cannot be stressed enough and is often forgotten/neglected. Maybe it‘s worth an own box (“why do we want to achieve xyz?”)

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    • Hi Arne
      Thanks for the feedback – the other benefit of making this stuff available is that it gets improved more quickly!
      1) I agree! I was trying to find a different word to goal as that is already on the template.”Approach” was meant to be more general than the means. I’ll update the post to try and be clearer.
      2) I use the context to describe the why. Will Evans had some similar feedback so I’ll update the context to be more explicit about the current critical challenge or opportunity. I also think the higher intent should also articulate the why in that it should help he business in some way.

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