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Managing to Learn by Toyota veteran John Shook, reveals the thinking underlying the vital A3 management process at the heart of lean management and lean leadership. Constructed as a dialogue between a manager and his boss, the book explains how “A3 thinking” helps managers and executives identify, frame, and then act on problems and challenges. Shook calls this approach, which is captured in the simple structure of an A3 report, “the key to Toyota’s entire system of developing talent and continually deepening its knowledge and capabilities.”
The action plan template helps us define the who, what, when, where, and how of our plan on one page. It also helps us track progress and highlight problems so we can take action. Action plans help us deploy our mother A3 strategies effectively. We need to ask: What does this mother A3 mean for my section? How do I translate the mother A3 into meaningful tactics? Once we've written our first draft action plan, we need to engage our team members by asking, "what do you think?" Thus, the plan becomes their plan—creating ownership is fundamental to deployment.
Some organizations find it useful to put blank action plan templates on pads of paper and make them available to team leaders and group leaders, and this template can serve that role: Some people aren't comfortable with computers, and we want to make deployment as easy as possible. It's also a good idea to hold learning sessions (called "lunch and learns" at some companies) where people learn the planning and execution basics.
Getting the Right Things Done, from which this example is taken, Pascal Dennis outlines the nuts and bolts of strategy deployment, answering two tough questions that ultimately can make or break a company's lean transformation.
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A current-status or yearend review A3 is a one-page storyboard on 11-inch by 17-inch paper that summarizes the status of an important strategic planning initiative, such as our Customer Satisfaction strategy. Normally, we use them at our midyear and yearend strategic planning reviews.
The yearend review A3 comprises two main boxes: the top box provides an overview of how we're doing with respect to our critical end-of-pipe metrics (e.g. revenue, profit, customer delivery, quality rates, lost time injury rate, etc.) including the target and actual measures, a rating, and a brief explanation. The second box provides an overview of our activities, and usually reflects what's been prescribed on the action plan of the right side of our strategy A3. Again, we provide activity targets and actual measures, ratings, explanations, and next steps.
A strategy A3 is a one-page storyboard on 11-inch by 17-inch paper that helps us tell our strategy "story." Logic flows from top left to bottom right, and each box leads to the next one. Some people might look at a strategy A3 and find it too complicated or busy. This is a normal reaction; we're condensing a lot on to one page. But you'll find that good A3 stories have an intuitive flow and can be told in five to 10 minutes.
For companies to be competitive, leaders must engage people at all levels in order to focus their energy and enable them to apply lean principles to everything they do. Strategy deployment, called hoshin kanri by Toyota, has proven to be the most effective process for meeting this ongoing challenge. In this book Pascal Dennis outlines the nuts and bolts of strategy deployment.
In their bestselling business classic Lean Thinking, James Womack and Daniel Jones introduced the world to the principles of lean production—principles for eliminating waste during production. Now, in Lean Solutions, the authors establish the groundbreaking principles of lean consumption, showing companies how to eliminate inefficiency during consumption.