I have always enjoyed doing new and different things for Retrospectives. Believing that valuable retrospectives allow the team to truly reflect and improve.

A3 Thinking is a problem solving technique present in Lean which help solve problems at the organizational level.

Cara took us on a whirlwind tour of some concrete concepts used in Lean and Agile. Using the Deming model to illustrate that we do checking very well (retrospectives) and then Acting on it, but how often do we test and verify that the improvement goal are actually improving anything. A3 thinking applied to Team retrospectives help create testable hypothesis and keeps the system in mind.


The Simulation:

Groups, Understand the Context

Cara introduced us to 2 companies, fictitious she assured us J.  Each group was given 1 out of the 2 companies with their specific environment and current states. Knowing the context allowed us to study and understand the problem. The notes were extremely valuable and it was just the right detail to allow our imagination to fill in the rest.

We were encouraged to understand the problem and context but not to try and solve the problem, solving the problem was not the intention of the talk and Cara facilitated the problem solvers back to the exercise at hand.


Influencing factors

We identified any factors that could increase the rate of change. These items are not positive or negative but to understand their impact on the rate of change in the system.


Clarifying Expectations

Articulate the current state (current problem) and the desired target state (long term ideal)


Write a hypothesis

Introducing a hypothesis creates the opportunity to make our goals testable.


[doing something] we expect [this result]”

Pass Conditions / / Fail Conditions

(if our hypothesis is right)

(if our hypothesis is wrong)

We can now test our goals at the end of the sprint to ascertain if the improvement goal is proving our hypothesis correct or not.


The Sprint

Using our imaginations and some guided “Real life” scenarios our group had a 3 week sprint, during the sprint we responded to all of the events and could say what our progress was on our retrospective goal.



We looked at what happened in the whole system. We tried to understand if our hypothesis was met proven true or false and we took that information to change some of the assumptions on expectations. We changed our expectations where needed and adjusted created new hypothesis to take into our next sprint.

~fin Simulation


Creating testable hypothesis, just testing it without worrying to get them right and understanding that the whole system has an impact helps us see problems differently. What Cara did was allow us to distill the essence of A3 thinking to an empirical experience that can be used by teams trying to kill some of their tougher impediments or at least understand the problem better. We now have another tool to add to a team’s toolbox.


Close The Loop

Team work: