Peak Academy’s genesis story starts in Denver, Colorado. The City of Denver implemented this lean government program in 2011 by Denver Mayor, Michael B. Hancock, who placed the team in the Department of Finance under the budget director. Denver Peak Academy is a process improvement team that trains and collaborates with government employees to improve the customer and employee experience. The program was designed to provide frontline employees with the tools to innovate and make data driven decisions.
In November 2016, Tim Moreland, the director of performance management and open data for the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, traveled to Denver to attend the city’s “Peak Academy” week-long training. This program was designed to empower City of Denver employees to create and implement their own improvements to the way their government works. The experience convinced Tim that the program could work in Chattanooga, too. So three months later, with no budget and no staff, Moreland helped Chattanooga launch a Peak Academy of its own.
Catherine Bennett sought out Tim Moreland to discuss how this program could be successfully delivered to ACCGov. In April 2019, Tim Moreland came to Athens to deliver the first Athens Peak Academy and to teach Organizational Development how to facilitate the training. The program suffered a slow start and minimal adoption, despite the excitement of its graduates to immediately implement A3 Thinking.
So, what is A3 Thinking and why is it important?
It starts with the A3 Report. The training provides a simple and strict procedure that guides problem-solving by workers. The approach typically uses a single sheet of A3-size paper, which is the source of its name. The A3 Report is a powerful tool. It provides a concrete structure to implement PDCA Management. It helps draw the report author(s) to a deeper understanding of the problem or opportunity and how to address it. It facilitates cohesion and alignment within the organization as to the best course of action. But as with any tool, one must know how to use it.
The power of the A3 report, however, derives not from the report itself, but rather from the development of the culture and mindset required for the implementation of the A3 system. In other words, A3 reports are not just an end product but are evidence of a powerful set of dynamics that is referred to as A3 Thinking.
Repackaging and Rebranding ACCA3 Academy
In 2020, Organizational Development decided to offer the program again, with improved content and materials, and repackaged to reflect ACCGov’s mission and values. We renamed the program ACCA3 because it our intention to help ACCGov become a lean government using deeply innovative practices and A3 Thinking.
And then it happened. Just two months before the already-scheduled course date. COVID-19, social distancing, and the government shutdown.
Now, more than ever, new ways of thinking and new practices are needed to stretch our resources further without a reduction in the valuable services our citizens have come to rely on to feel both physically and psychologically safe. Welcome to the new normal...and ACCA3 Academy. Just in time to teach you lean government practices for tough times.
Maybe it's time to break things, so that they can be remade into something more unique and of greater value. Sign up for ACCA3 today!
- What are “systems of work”?
- Creating a widget to improve a system of work
- Understand the “Voice of the Customer” with empathy
- Mistake proofing practices
- ACCA3 Day 3
When Denver Mayor Michael Hancock took office in 2011, he inherited an $80 million budget shortfall and a government workforce that had been through multiple rounds of cuts and furloughs. Morale was low. He needed a way to drive greater efficiencies, cost savings and improved performance—and he had to do it in-house, on a shoe-string budget.
Enter Peak Academy, the coaching and innovation program Mayor Hancock created to teach frontline city employees how to tackle small problems and deliver big results. In four years, Peak Academy trained 5,000 government staff in the fundamentals of lean manufacturing and other process management techniques. More than 2,000 employee-driven innovations later, the program had saved Denver an estimated $15 million. Word got out and dozens of other governments sent their staffs to Denver or hired Peak Academy to bring the training to them.
In this fun, easy-to-read guide, Peak Academy director Brian Elms and Governing staff writer J.B. Wogan deliver the basics for the rest of us, with a surprisingly frank discussion about how hard it was to get the program off the ground. Experience a thoughtful exploration of both the challenges faced and the reasons why Peak ultimately succeeded. Get a clear overview of Peak Academy training methods and tools (including yes, all those yellow stickies).
See concrete examples of employee-driven innovations—many of which sound, in hind-sight, like $40,000 no-brainers, until you realize there are hundreds of similar and much-needed fixes in every workplace. Peak Performance is a book that will help public sector leaders replicate the Peak model. It’s a book for government managers to read and talk about with their teams. But most importantly, it’s a book for anyone working in government at any level—about the power of good ideas to improve the way government works.