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A3 Dojo: Share and Discuss A3s with Other Lean Thinkers

Welcome to this shared space for A3 thinking, which we┬╣ve designed to be a resource for lean practitioners to ask and discuss A3 questions, share common problems, and work together on ongoing challenges. This area builds on a conversation about lean management that was launched by John Shook's book Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor, and Lead.
Below you will find a "wall" where you can post your A3s, ask questions, coach others and be coached yourself. You can also read an ongoing A3 column, written by experienced senseis, that teaches problem-solving and lean management, shares useful resources, and sparks new debate for the Dojo.
Please keep in mind that everything that you post on this site will be viewable to the public! We welcome your input, but caution you about revealing sensitive information.
 
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The Managing to Learn - A3 Dojo

Postings for September 1, 2014

Subject: Can I use A3 to communicate supplier quality improvement roadmap
Message: I am presently working on supplier quality improvement. Scope is vast and lot of actions are required from supplier assessment , consolidation and new sourcing if the assessment proves so, score card and improvement plan. can I use this tool to communicate where plan could last upto one year?
Posted 9/1/2014 7:31 AM by Vikas Narkar send a private message to this person
Comments (2) 
 
Message:

Vikas-
The short answer to your question is yes. It appears from your final statement that there may be concern about the one-year duration. The purpose of using the A3 process is multi-faceted and includes problem solving, developing problem solvers and getting alignment/agreement. So again, the quick answer is yes, you can to gain alignment and agreement on your implementation.   

But here is the rest of the story- ideally the A3 process would have been used up-front, working with the stakeholders (your suppliers included) in defining the actual problem, determining root-cause, developing and agreeing on countermeasures to the root cause and creating an plan to implement. This will result in a more effective solution set and a more sustainable future state.   So you can use it as you described, but if the stakeholders have not been engaged you will not get the benefit of the process and you risk alienating future A3 participants as they will think this is less of a collaborative process and more of a reporting and telling process. 
Eric

Posted 9/19/2014 8:43 AM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
 
Message: I agree with Eric, the A3 can be used to tell most any improvement story. But the collaborative nature of the A3 "Process" is where the true value is. I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression of it just being a report. I would save the A3 for the next improvement activity where collaboration is critical and utilize the A3 from the beginning and to help guide the process.
Posted 10/17/2014 9:04 AM by Frank Boudreau
Subject: 7-step vs 8-step
Message: Are there any guidelines for when to use the the three different templates, especially 7-step versus 8-step? I made a reasonable search of resources but couldn't find any references to this question.
Posted 8/29/2014 7:40 PM by Stuart Corcoran
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

Hey Stuart, 

So there are various versions of problem solving, 4, 6, 7, and 8 steps that have evolved from PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Action) scientific method going back to Deming.     Some processes have put more focus on root cause analysis, containment and other parts of the PDCA.    In all honestly if you were to ask 5 random people in various industries about the process they use you may get 5 different answers.    

So I personally use and follow the 8 step (Toyota Business Practices-TBP) methodology that I learn while at Toyota.  It follows the PDCA process and is a very robust process for efficient and effective thinking. 

PLAN:

Step 1 - Clarify the Problem - Step 2 - Breakdown the Problem - Step 3 - Target Setting - Step 4 - Root Cause Analysis - Step 5 - Develop Countermeasures

DO:

Step 6 - Seeing Countermeasures through

CHECK:

Step 7 - Monitor Process and Results

ACT:

Step 8 - Standardize and Share successful practices

So when you think about the variation of "steps" in different processes, I ask the question around do all the steps in the process fully follow PDCA?    I dont think there is a specific recipe for which one is used and when, I think its more about the quality of thinking that is done at the gemba, questions you ask to the employees or process owners doing the work, basing your findings on facts versus opinions, and not to skip steps or jump to the solution because we think we know the fix.  

Most of the time I find that problems are framed in the sense of an outcome or countermeasure.   People tend to think with the end in mind unfortunately so it never allows you to fully solve the problem, usually just symptoms.    So hopefully what you will see is more of the issue that which steps to use when, but when you completely solve a problem with a valid process that allows you to ask:

Did the countermeasure (s) take care of the root cause(s), did the root cause(s) take care of the point of occurrence in the process, did we met the target by eliminating the point of occurrence, by meeting the target did we eliminate one portion of the broken down problem, by elimination one portion of the breakdown did we eliminate the a percentage of the gap.    That is effective questioning no matter what how many steps you use.  It really more about the thinking itself of PDCA than the tool.    Hope this is helpful.  Sorry for the delayed response.   Tracey Richardson

Posted 9/19/2014 12:54 PM by Tracey Richardson send a private message to this person
Subject: A3 report
Message: I don't understand what is the meaning of A3?
Anyone can explain it ,or show me the defination.
Posted 7/31/2014 9:30 PM by Yao King send a private message to this person
Comments (2) 
 
Message: An A3 is one page document summarizing a project or problem we are working on. The name A3 comes from the size of paper which is equal to 11 x 17 inches .It was developed at Toyota
Motors Japan as a part of their TPS (Toyota production system).The Japanese had no patience for flipping through multi page reports .They wanted to see all the critical information on one page.There is certain technique for creating this one pager.Lot of books and articles are available on A3 thinking .
shaukatsaleem@gmail.com
Posted 8/8/2014 3:11 PM by SHAUKAT SALEEM
 
Message:

Yao - this may also help:  http://www.lean.org/Workshops/WorkshopDescription.cfm?WorkshopId=34

 

It is a link to LEI''s course description for the A3 and provides some additional details on the A3 process.

Eric

Posted 8/12/2014 9:56 AM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
Subject: A3 follow-up..... Reflection on results
Message: In my company we have focused a lot of effort on the A3 process, particularly the Plan and Do sections. We have not been so diligent in the Check and Act methods. We would like to begin visually communicating the impact our problem solving and continuous improvement efforts are having on particular Value Streams within the plant. We are good about collecting data after countermeasures have been put in place, however reflecting on conclusions of our experiments is still weak and weaker yet is providing line-of-sight communication. What is an effective method that provides department managers a way to explain why a goal exists, what we are doing to achieve it, and how are we performing based on the plan?
Posted 6/16/2014 8:36 AM by Travis Hood send a private message to this person
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

Travis,

Let me apologize for the delayed response. Don't know how this question got past us. 

One idea, if I'm understanding your question correctly is to make sure that the linkage between all sections of the A3 is very clear at every step. Then as results are measured, they can be linked back to the specific countermeasures, then to the root causes and the targets.   A potential enhancement to make this linkage clearer actually resides in how action plans are documented and tracked. 

Common practice is to create an action plan with action items, responsibilities, target dates, status and a Gantt chart. I have found it effective to add a field called "impact". When the plan is being created, for each line item you need to decide if any of your metrics will move upon completion of that line item. If yes, then estimate the incremental impact of completing that step.   This field will only be filled-in for steps that will move a metric. An example in a lead time reduction problem could be step 1 that rearranges a new cell, step 2 that trains the employees and step 3 that launches the new cell. Steps 1 &2 would have no impact on lead time, but step 3 may be estimated to reduce the valuestream lead time by six days.  There may be other steps in the plan that their completion will result in reducing the lead time (pull system between the cell and fabrication area, new material delivery routes, etc). 

Now that you have timing in your plan AND impact you can create a graph of the planned impact versus the actual. This will give you insight into how you are tracking to move your metrics in a more realtime manner (versus checking at the end). If the timing charts, tracking graphs and a copy of the A3 are all posted in the area being impacted, this will enable you to have a clearer discussion and reflection on what has happened and what was learned. 

It can be difficult to reflect at the end of the activity, all at once. This encourages ongoing, "small lot" if you will, reflection. 

Posted 9/24/2014 9:36 AM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
Subject: Problem Statement versus Current Condition
Message: Am reviewing some of my A3 templates and trying to teach it to others but I realized I've got some very similar sections on it. What would be the difference between the background, the current state, and the problem statement? Same for other end of what is the difference between the goal versus the future condition/target?
Posted 6/11/2014 1:25 PM by Ann Mazzoli
Comments (2) 
 
Message:

Ann, thanks for asking.  The imporant part is to have a story that logically flows and connects - to help one learn the A3 process these sections have been defined.

The purpose of the Background is to establish up-front why this particular problem or theme is worth talking about.  What is the business reason?  Every organization has limited resources being stretched in multiple directions - make sure the problem you are working on will help the business and isn't a "pet project"

The purpose of the Current Situation is to document just that, what is happening in the process right now.  It is important to demonstrate an understanding of how the process currently operates (a map of some sort?) and how it currently performs against key metrics.....metrics that are in support of the business issue described in the background.  Do not be surprised to spend lots of the effort of your A3 in this section - upwards of 60% of the total time (some argue even more).  This is the foundation for your problem solve so it is important to clearly understand what is happening now.

The purpose of the target is to establish how you want the improved process to PERFORM.  The target should not contain any solutions.  With the performance of the current state and a stated goal of how you want the process to perform there will be a gap.  Your target will be to close all or part of the gap - and your current situation will help you decide.  For example, say your process currently has a lead time of 20 days, but your customer is driving you to reduce it to 8 days, then you have a 12 days gap.  But further inspection of the value stream map reveals that of the original 20 day of lead time, 10 of it occurs within your four walls and 10 occurs in the in-bound supply chain.  This could lead you and your stakeholders to focus on reducing the lead time by 6 days by focusing on the internal lead time reduction first.  The supply chain lead time issue will be handled by a separate A3.

Eric

Posted 6/11/2014 1:45 PM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
 
Message: Thank you. That helps to clarify.
Posted 6/11/2014 1:56 PM by Ann Mazzoli
Subject: REferrence required
Message: An A3 is a one page document summarizing a project or problem you're working on. The name A3 comes from the size of the paper, which to us North Americans converts roughly to 11 x 17. As someone once described an A3 to me: "The Japanese have no patience for flipping through 80 page reports. They want to see the critical information on one page."

ref,required to quote for above

Posted 6/3/2014 11:37 AM by SHAUKAT SALEEM
Comments (2) 
 
Message:

Shaukat,

I'm not sure of the orgin of this quote.  Perhaps another reader can help.  

Eric

Posted 6/3/2014 1:35 PM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
 
Message: I have never heard about such quote. But I have heard (from a very old engineer), that one of the Czech´s most famous pre-WWII businessmen Tomas Bata have not had such nerve to read all the "massive 40+ page elaborates" and he has required to hammer down any issue or problem onto 1 sheet of A4 (coincidentally it equals to 1 page of A3). And I do believe this actually might be truth and get hit into Japan prior to WWII (together with the Takt Time via the German engineers deployed to help the Japanese military industry).
Posted 6/6/2014 10:20 AM by Vitezslav Pilmaier send a private message to this person
Subject: When to do an A3 vs When to implement Standard Work
Message: I have been asked, when should I do an A3 vs when shoud I try to implement standard work. I am trying to develop a document to help guide staff in the differences and was wondering if others had similar issue or would perhaps give thoughts on this? Thank you to any who can chime in
Posted 5/23/2014 3:34 PM by Christine Doucette send a private message to this person
Comments (2) 
 
Message:

HI Christine, 

So when I speak to this in my sessions I describe the difference in a couple of ways:  

1st:  Caused Gap- where you have a clear "measurable" gap between the known standard (or Ideal state) and the current situation.   This encourages us to go and see and investigate to find the root cause (when it isn't apparent), this may be a reason to do an A3.  This drives you to the process and engage in dialogue with the primary process owners. 

2nd:  Created Gap- where you may be meeting a current standard and you want to raise the bar and improve it.  These are usually strategic A3's, some would call them proposals.  They can also be used when there isnt necessarily a known standard.  

The Japanese also taught me about SDCA.   Its a bit different than PDCA (plan do check action).    Standardize  Do  Check  Act, allows you set a standard, then check its effectiveness by asking did it improve the process to the customer (internal or external) expectations?   If the standard meets the expectations then you document it as the benchmark, then continuous improvement (kaizen) takes place.

If you think about it this way.   99% of all root causes of A3 fall into 3 categories:

Lack of standards

Not following the standards

Wrong standard 

If we focus on setting standards and ensuring they are meeting the customer expectations then it should reduce the amount of A3's we have to do.  

If you use SCDA you must ensure everyone understands the new expectations and why they were set.    I think many people set standards but lack the discipline and accountability to follow them.  

I hope this helps explain the difference at a high level.   Tracey Richardson

Posted 5/24/2014 11:39 PM by Tracey Richardson send a private message to this person
 
Message: Thank you Tracey. Yes it does. I was thinking along these lines...was looking for both another perspective and a different way of saying what I was for a little more ooomph!
I like the way you put it. Makes sense. thanks again!
Posted 5/25/2014 1:54 PM by Christine Doucette send a private message to this person
Subject: A3 candidates
Message: Can someone provide any guidelines to choose A3 candidates from a list of issues?
Posted 5/15/2014 4:05 AM by Jordi Mas send a private message to this person
Comments (3)  view all
 
Message:

Hello Jordi, 

When I worked at Toyota we tried to prioritize based on the "pain to the organization".  What I mean by that is what key performance indicators (KPI's) are the A3 "issues" affecting?  We always looked at what we were measuring and how we could improve the company KPI's by solving certain problems first.   

We would also use criteria such as:

Effectiveness, Cost, Feasibility, Impact, Quality, Safety among others.

These would help us determine which we tackled first. 

Hope this helps answer your question.   Tracey

Posted 5/24/2014 10:03 PM by Tracey Richardson send a private message to this person
 
Message: Thank you very much for your answers.
Posted 5/26/2014 3:36 AM by Jordi Mas send a private message to this person
Subject: A3 review
Message: Is there a A3 review form / format that someone can share? the intent is to ensure we capture the right things in an A3 and develop learnings to be used by Sensei's.
Posted 2/28/2014 11:26 AM by Lalgudi Vasudevan
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

Hello Lalgudi, 

Here is a A3 "cheatsheet" that can help you understand the "thinking" that goes into each part of the A3.   Remember a lot of it is at the gemba engaging with people creating a dialogue about their work process.   This "cheatsheet" is from John Shook's book - Managing to Learn A3 class we do at LEI.   Hope this is helpful.   Tracey

Posted 2/28/2014 11:31 AM by Tracey Richardson send a private message to this person
Subject: Policy on use of A3
Message: Can anyone share a sample company policy around the use of A3/continual improvement?
Posted 1/23/2014 6:17 PM by Jeffrey Leap send a private message to this person
Comments (0) 
Subject: A3 for Accident investigation
Message: Hi
I'm working to Implement A3 to help our group leaders make better work accident investigations. The investigation they make is often incomplete and don't respond to the question What is the root cause of this accident. So we think introducting A3 to structure their process , will help us. Does anyone ever used A3 for investigation of work accident. Is there any thing we should adapt to fit this need or any pitfall to avoid ?
Posted 12/11/2013 2:03 PM by Loic Rafenomanjato
Comments (4)  view all
 
Message: Hi,
definitely you could use the A3 process.
The only comment I would make is to ensure, that you tackle all three legs of a Root Cause.

A. Non-Conformance
Why did it happen? What went wrong?

B. Non-detection
Why was the "unsafe" Situation not identified Prior to happen

C. Systemic approach
Where is the "lack" within our governing System, that allow this accident happen?

If you going with the Team through all 3 areas, you may find more and better answers and Actions, to ensure that the accident will not happen again.

Save and peaceful Christmas time to all of you
Posted 12/20/2013 2:14 AM by Olaf Klau
 
Message: Hi,
I think QRQC/8D is more suitable for the accident investigation,
1. Problem description?5W2H?
2. Is/Is not Analysis
3. Containment
4. Why not detection?5Why?
5. Why occur?5Why?
6. Actions
7. Tracking result, compare result before after action taking
8. Standardized and Create Lessons Learned
Posted 4/28/2014 4:00 AM by Figo Yu send a private message to this person
Subject: DMAIC & A3
Message: Would you please explain how DMAIC can be used in the A3 format?

Thank you!
Posted 12/6/2013 4:39 PM by Fatima Al-Roubaiai
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

The quick answer is DMAIC easily maps to the A3:

Define & Measure = Background, Current Situation and Target

Analyze = Analysis / Recommendations

Improve = Action Plan

Control = Follow-up

 

But here are my cautions:  

1. Think of the A3 as a process, not a format.  If you haven't read the book Managing to Lean, I would suggest you read it.  That will offer clarity on what I mean.

2.  Key to the A3 process is the effective engagement of ALL the stakeholders involved in the problem.  It has been my experience that most stakeholders get lost or overwhelmed by the DMAIC terms.  The terms typically used in an A3 are more approachable.

3.  Finally, and I say this as a black belt, be careful about treating DMAIC as a gated, unidirectional linear process.  Effective problem solving is messy.  We never have perfect knowledge.  Expect to make discoveries that will cause you to back up and redefine the problem.

Eric Ethington

Posted 12/10/2013 10:14 PM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
Subject: What is strategic A3 and How strategy is developed, deployed and monitored?
Message: We are in a phase of stragic A3 development for implementation of LEAN. but confused about overall stratgy and Lean strategy..
Posted 11/1/2013 6:24 AM by Maqsood Ashraf Bala send a private message to this person
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

I was just with the plant managers of a company that has started hoshin (strategy) planning.  They were responsible for creating their plant hoshins to achieve the contributions they are expected to make to the manufacturing vice president's FY2014 hoshin objectives.  I worked with them on translating the performance improvement objectives deployed to each plant into goals for performance improvements by specific parts of their operations. The plant managers were then shown how to create strategy A3s to describe how and why those goals were arrived at and to deploy responsibility to specific managers for making specific improvements in the performance of their units and value streams.  
 
After the plant managers had drafted their strategy A3s with input from and discussion with their managers, the managers then worked on breaking their goals down to identify specific parts of their areas (values streams, lines, cells, departments or groups) that would need to achieve specific improvement targets. These managers were shown how to draft tactics A3s to describe their thinking and analysis in that breakdown and indicate why specific leaders and areas were given responsibility for specific improvements targets. In most cases the managers either went to their areas, pulled in data or contacted specific leaders and staff members to help them grasp the situation of their overall operations or the nature of performance problems in specific parts.  
 
The Countermeasures sections of their A3s outlined changes and performance capability improvements they selected to achieve their target performance levels and the Plan sections described schedules, targets, timing,responsibilities and reviews for each improvement activity.  Some of the initiatives will required cascading projects A3s and others just action plans by the responsible people. The monitoring will be done through a regular schedule of reviews with the people responsible for changes, improvements, projects or actions plans reporting on their plan versus actual progress and how they propose to address gaps between the two and barriers to implementation. The end-of-plan cycle review will also include a reflection on the effort and its accomplishments and a grasp of the end-of-cycle situation and lessons to carry forward into the next year's hoshin planning.
 
I hope this is some help in answering your questions about "How strategy is developed, deployed and monitored." As a brief response to your question about the difference between overall strategy and lean strategy,  I have come to the perspective that lean is not a business strategy;  it is a means of achieving a business strategy.  My thinking would be that you decide the top priority strategic and performance objectives for the company or operation for the planning period and then figure how to use lean performance improvement and continuous improvement to build the capability to achieve those objectives.  Thanks for your questions.  Best wishes in your strategic effort. David

Posted 11/1/2013 5:45 PM by David Verble send a private message to this person
Subject: Strategy A3 verse Problem Solving A3
Message: Doesn't a Strategy A3 require a Gap to be resolved? Is that not the same as a Problem solving A3? What is the difference?
Posted 10/22/2013 12:49 PM by Andrew Retter send a private message to this person
Comments (3)  view all
 
Message: Thank you Tracy for the recalibration!
Posted 10/23/2013 8:02 AM by Andrew Retter send a private message to this person
 
Message: Thank you Tracy for the recalibration!
Posted 10/23/2013 8:02 AM by Andrew Retter send a private message to this person
Subject: A3 in managing ot learn by John Shook
Message: I got lost in the analysis section of the "Lost in Translation A3" . Would someone like to help me? you can contact me at colin.roach@aol.com
Posted 8/27/2013 8:32 PM by Colin Roach send a private message to this person
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

Colin,

Thanks for asking.  Can you clarify which part isn't clear.  It will help us provide a more useful response.

Eric

Posted 8/29/2013 8:04 AM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
Subject: Implementing A3
Message: Good morning,

One of the big challenges in my organization is this culture of fire fighting. Senior managers have been promoted based on this way of doing things, but now want us to change. I have read about how A3 thinking has helped organizations become problem solvers. How has this successfully been introduced?
Posted 7/23/2013 9:55 AM by Hazel Lord
Comments (2) 
 
Message:

Hazel,

Thanks for asking.  The good news, if I am understanding your posting correctly, is that your management has stated the desire to change.  That is big, since as you have correctly observed, they have achieved their current positions by being awarded for different behaviors.

Regarding "fire fighting" - one thing to realize is that it is never eliminated; but an organization can shift such that fire-fighting is the excpetion and not the norm.  The A3 can be a powerful enabler in making this shift as it drives more effective countermeasures (getting to the root cause of problems versus jumping to solutions and confusing activity with progress) and is a medium to develop more and more problem solvers in your organization.

Not to over-simplify the implementation of the A3 process, but we often break it down to 3 simple steps:

1. Make a decision - leadership makes the willful decision that they want to get better

2. Provide a process - the A3 can be that process

3. Practice - effective problem solving and coaching do not happen easily; it requires practice (just as ANY skill does)

Key to making this truly work is to get a good understanding of what the A3 process really IS and WHY.  If you haven't read Managing to Learn I strongly suggest you do as it is one of the best books I have seen on the topic, exploring both the role of the A3 owner/writer and the role of the coach.

Eric

Posted 7/30/2013 11:00 AM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
 
Message: > "How has this successfully been introduced?"

1. Begin with yourself: study as much as you can, use as many sources as you can.

2. Once you feel sufficiently confident, don't "sell" the methodology to others, solve problems! As a Chinese proverb says: "Talk does not cook rice." Start small. As you involve others in the framing and solution of those problems, you'll make visible progress.

3. For new problems, offer to do pair-problem solving (i.e. you are both authoring the A3) with the selected few who show promise and want to learn the approach. Once you'll achieve visible results, other managers will often beg to "teach them" :D

4. After a few problems, take the official role of "acting" mentor/coach and let the former peer become your "student" (the problem-solver). Students will eventually become future coaches.

5. Repeat.

My first peer and student is now Head of the Lean Office in a Fortune 50 company. Skilled a3 thinkers get promoted too ;-)

Claudio
@a3thinker
Posted 7/30/2013 2:34 PM by Claudio Perrone send a private message to this person
Subject: Discovering the Problem really isn't a proble
Message: Hello fellow lea(r)ners!

I'm very new to the lean topic and wanted to pose a couple of situations that have arisen during a pilot A3 we're conducting wtih our Customer Care team to see how they should be properly handled:

1. What do you do when the team does not agree that the problem posed by their leader(s) is the highest priority problem for them?
2. How do you get a team's buy-in that the problem being solved is one that's important to solve if it's not a problem for them? For instance, a process for the collective Customer Care team is problematic, but for the folks on the team, the problem is one they do not encounter often enough for it to impact them on a day-to-day basis because of how different their customer bases are?
Posted 7/17/2013 5:32 PM by Michael Scott
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

Michael - interesting pair of questions.  I sense both relate to scoping as part of deploying problem solving responsibility.  In scoping you are dealing with problems at three levels: business or operational performance issues, value stream or work flow performance issues and process step or work method level problems. The key in scoping is making sure you've got the linkage among the levels correctly defined and clearly communicated.  The first thing to check is whether the process or value stream level problems the leaders have asked to have addressed are the primary contributors to the higher level performance issues.  If so it's a matter of helping those in the value stream or the process see the linkage and the importance of addressing the problems [which is basically what you are trying to describe in the background of an A3.]  If there isn't a critical linkage then it's a matter of helping the leaders see what performance issues at the process level are actually contributing to their performance concerns.  That can be done either with a value stream or process map with the primary problems highlighted [in other words the problem breakdown between performance gap and contributing problems in the work that you want to show in the current situation section of your A3] or with an invitation to the leaders to come to the gemba and see and hear firsthand. I am attaching some slides from the Managing to Learn workshop that show the three levels and give an example of the linkage.  Hope this helps a bit. Come back to us with more questions if you have them.  Thanks

Posted 7/18/2013 8:24 PM by David Verble send a private message to this person
Subject: Building the Team
Message: Can someone help me answers these questions as part of LEAN team development?

1. What qualities do the team members need to possess?
2. How will you recruit people with these qualities to work for your organization?
3. What training and development needs are there and how will they be addressed?
4. How will you retrain the employees that are currently employed at your organization? Consider all levels of employees (examples: shop floor employees, middle managers, executive leadership).
5. What will you do to motivate the employees?
6. What activities will you involved them in?
7. How will you measure their performance?

Posted 7/13/2013 12:10 AM by Ann Remus send a private message to this person
Comments (1) 
 
Message:

Wow - the answer to these questions could be an entire book; there is a lot there to think about.  

I am assuming you do not want to write a book for your organization, and if you did there would be the issue of getting everyone to read it and understand it.  Also, the answers to these questions are not absolute - it depends on the current state of your organization.  One size doesn't fit all.

 That said, what problem are you trying to solve with this list of questions?  What is the business reason for addressing that problem?  And, what is the current state of the process right now?Answering these questions with the stakeholders in you organization will help you identify the real problem(s) you are trying to solve and leader you to countermeasures that will be USEFUL.

My sensei used to tell me, "general question, general answer."  General answers made for good conversation, but they rarely solved real problems.

So what's the problem?

Posted 7/14/2013 10:15 AM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
Subject: What is and avg. time for and A3
Message: I just wanted to ask, is there and average time that it should take before the A3 Team comes to a solution? It's been more than a year.
Posted 6/22/2013 1:50 PM by Susan Villalpando-Kyser send a private message to this person
Comments (3)  view all
 
Message:

Susan,

Thanks for asking.  There is no easy answer here except to say, "it depends." (Bet you saw that coming).  As Vitezslav notes, the scope of the problem will have a big impact.  Another thing to think about is what is meant by "solution?"  

Even A3's that are large in scope can (and often should ) be broken down into smaller problems that add up to the whole.  An example could be a product that is not returning the projected profit margin.  Breaking this problem down could reveal variances in raw material costs, sales price, transportation costs and assembly costs.  Each of these could, in their own right, be a separate A3 requiring a different analysis approach and different set of countermeasures. When the problem is broken down, it is then possible to have incremental progress on the individual A3's.  Should your problem be broken down into several problems?  Can progress be made on the individual problems - some more quickly than others?

Another factor to consider is, "how is the A3 being used to move the project along?".  Is the A3 something that is referred to and discussed on a periodic basis in meetings, or is it constantly being used to move the project forward, always being referred to, always being carried around and socialized by its owner.  It is better to have short & frequent A3 interactions (small lot & flow) than to have longer and infrequent A3 interactions (batch & queue).

Eric Ethington

 

Posted 6/26/2013 2:17 PM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
 
Message: Thanks for the info. I thought it was taking too long.
Posted 7/19/2013 2:10 PM by Susan Villalpando-Kyser send a private message to this person
Subject: Who should the A3 owner be?
Message: We have a situation where one of the major root causes of a problem in manufacturing will surely be the culture that led to unwise manaufacturing practices. Somewhere (I think in MTL) I read that it is important to have the right level of person solving a problem. That only makes sense. An engineer would be the likely owner of the technical aspects of the problem we faced, but he/she wouldn't be the right person to own the cultural problem. The President would seem to be the right one to own the cultural problem, but he shouldn't be solving the technical aspects of this problem. Is the best thing to do to split the problem into two A3's? If not, how would we choose who the owner should be?

Thanks,

Greg
Posted 6/17/2013 10:03 PM by Greg Hildebrand send a private message to this person
Comments (2) 
 
Message:

Greg - please help out here a bit.  I am struggling with the idea of culture as a root cause. Cuture is as big as the company.  It consists of thousands of assumptions about how to do things.  Which one do you believe led to what unwise manufacturing practice?  Culture can't be tackled as a whole.  Not even a company president can take on a whole company culture.  She/her can, however, question a company practice -- if she/he knows what which one it is.  That will allow questioining the assumptions that underlie it.  Thanks.  We need help to help.

Posted 6/17/2013 11:04 PM by David Verble send a private message to this person
 
Message:

Greg,

I saw your posting and had similar thoughts as David.  Culture can be described as the result of us working together - so your answer may be found in understanding the processes you use while working together.

A long time ago in one of my plants our engineers would develop then next generation production process, it would be installed in plant, it woudl be staffed, everyone would be trained and production would start.  Problems would arise and the finger pointing would begin.  You could say that was the culture.

We shifted to involving the operators upfront in creating mock-ups of the design concepts early on, evolving those concepts as the standard work was designed, building the line based on the final mock-up and standard work.  Production would start (the operators were trained as they helped to create the standard work) and problems would STILL arise - but the engineers and operators would work together to solve them.  A new culture had been created by how we did work.

Can you look at your working processes (it doesn't have to be creating new assembly lines) and see how they are impacting this thing we are calling culture?  Can you find a more specific root cause in that process?

Eric

Posted 6/18/2013 9:32 PM by Eric Ethington send a private message to this person
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