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Topic Title: A3
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Created On: 01/21/2009 03:25 PM
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01/21/2009 03:38 PM
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AdamS
Adam Shirley



I just finished watching the webinars on A3 and wow! What a powerful lean tool!
Has anyone used this in their facility?
01/21/2009 03:53 PM
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MarkRosenthal
Mark Rosenthal



Yes - though the structured thinking behind it is FAR more important than what size of paper you put it on. I say that because all too many people get wrapped up in how to fill out an A3 "correctly"

The learning culture behind it is the key point - it always comes down to people using tools, not people implementing tools.
01/21/2009 03:55 PM
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Moderator
Rachel Regan



For reference, the webinars to which Adam is referring can be found in the LEI Webinar Library (under the Education tab):
http://www.lean.org/Events/WebinarHome.cfm

There is a 2-part webinar series with John Shook called "Managing to Learn", which corresponds to the book of the same name (http://www.lean.org/Bookstore/...?SelectedProductID=246)

Rachel Regan
LEI Forums Moderator
01/21/2009 04:51 PM
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AdamS
Adam Shirley



I just happend upon it by accident, and had heard a loose reference to A3 and googled it. What i found was what Mark had said... a paper dimension.... 11X17 to be exact... and left the nagging idea lie.

but after i came across the webinar (both of them) in the library that Rachel linked it was what went ON the paper that caught me. 1 single piece of paper!!! Here i've been designing powerpoints and racking my brain with how to communicate what Lean is and how important it is and researching all these metrics all at once instead of addressing 1 core problem at time!! Thank you Mr. Womack and Mr. Shook for creating these webinars topics! I am eager to get started with experimenting with A3 and see what I come up with!!



Adam
01/21/2009 05:23 PM
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duecesevenOS
Kris Hallan



We have used it pretty extensively in our organization. Mark is right about the discipline behind it. I would forewarn you against trying to spread the A3 thought process too fast. The mentor - mentee relationship that Shook talks about in the book (Get the Book!) is absolutely pivotal. We were using A3 for about a year and a half before I read Managing to Learn and introduced it to several others in our organization. We learned a lot about mistakes we made after that.

One of the worst things you can do is require an A3 be written and then allow a poor A3 to get past you. This has a tendency to happen when you put an A3 mandate on something that you don't necessarily have control over. For instance, we started by requiring all CAPEX projects to be proposed using the A3 format (hoping that the A3 thought process would come with the format).

What we got was a lot of projects summarized on A3s and virtually no feedback to go back and improve anything. No one learned anything from the process, no hanei occured, and nemawashi was non-existent. It became a box that everyone had to check. This can have a very detrimental effect on people's attitude toward A3. Since they don't take it seriously, they can't really learn anything from it. I would say that this actually moved us backwards in our understanding of problem solving.

What has been successful for us is the use of A3's on our week long Kaizen Events. Our process is to get 4-8 process experts together for a week and take them through the creation of an A3. As a facilitator of one of these events, I would take on the same role that the A3 reviewer character takes on in the book. It's not my job to solve the problem and propose solutions. It is my job to ensure that the group has a good understanding of current condition, they are using proper analysis tools that deal in facts, and the proposed countermeasures solve the root cause of the problem. Oh and GO BACK TO THE GEMBA!

This is a much slower way of getting A3 out there but it is much more effective. It requires some true mentorship on the part of the facilitator. In our experience, a lot of people have been exposed to a PDCA type cycle and the idea of understanding current condition before moving on to target condition has had some very good effects on our overall understanding of problem solving.

With the deeper understanding our lean group has gotten from Managing to Learn, we have been really trying to understand the all inclusive nature of A3's. I keep saying that problem solving A3s is the 200 level understanding of A3. Now we are trying to start using A3s as systems development and improvement tools. It has been a somewhat freeing realization to find out that responsibility can be given without authority. The idea that authority comes not with elevated position but with expertize is an amazing thought ("Just in Time Authority).

I am still trying to get a good grasp on the implications of this. I think that this thought process is the missing tool that can attack a lot of those systemic issues that never seem capable of changing. Realizing that I could actually assign responsibility to someone to develop a proposal A3 on our financial metrics and that the act of developing that extensive A3 might actually give them the authority to change the system seems too good to be true...
01/22/2009 09:04 AM
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AdamS
Adam Shirley



Like what Shook said and Kris mentioned, I'm not going to rush this. First and foremost my intent is to get all the information i can about A3 and try to do it myself to see what i come up with before i even think about tryin to use it out on the floor. Currently my facility has adapted well to the Lean program to a certain extent. But I must say this tool may be better than what we're trying to do. I like the approach and the direction it takes. question is can i hold to the phiolosphy of it? sounds difficult from the posts thus far






adam
08/21/2009 10:38 AM
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CANTULA
Luis Cantu



Dear Kris Hallan

Can you share with me any kind of format or file where I can see the application of the A3?

regards

Luis Cantu
cantula@yahoo.com
08/21/2009 03:12 PM
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duecesevenOS
Kris Hallan



Can you share with me any kind of format or file where I can see the application of the A3?


I'm not sure what you are looking for. If you are looking for a form, I can't help too much. Even when I do an A3 on a computer, I start with a blank powerpoint slide.

I would say that my favorite "format" starts with a blank white board. I then draw two lines, one vertical and one horizontal across the middle of the board. I start filling out the A3 by writing "Business Case" in the upper left hand corner. With all of the key players in the room we try to work out why a subject is important to the company. Then we go to the gemba and try to understand current condition of the business case. We try to represent that in the lower left corner. We explain our root cause analyisis in that corner as well. Then we draw a picture of what we would consider an achievable target condition that would match up with the needs of the business. In the lower right we assign SMART actions that will bridge the gap between current and target conditions.

This is as basic as it gets. If I need an experiment or analysis section I add it where it is needed. Obviously, the white board is pretty temporary so I usually move it to paper or a computer whenever necessary.
08/24/2009 08:57 AM
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CEM
Carlos Moretti



08/31/2009 10:05 AM
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24835
Jeff McGowan



Have a think about using the Deming (Shewhart) Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDSA) cycle as a framework. This is often miss-understood and provides a great structure.

Plan - What is the problem. Problem definition coupled with hansei (deep reflection). Once a corrective action is in place, really go into the system causes. Why did this situation arise in the first place? Form a hypothesis. This is an important step, to check understanding, it is improtant to develop a hypothesis of what caused the problem.

Do - The hypothesis can then be tested (off-line if possible) to verify if the outcome is as predicted.

Study - If it is as prediced, great, you have learned about what caused the problem and how to potentially dela with it. If it is not as predicted, great, you have learned more about what didn't cause it and thus you have developed knowledge and can develop your next hypothesis.

Act - use this learning to develop systemic fixes. Where could this problem occur else where? Can this knowledge benefit others; develop an A3 for communication.

This development and sharing of knowledge is the most crucial part of PDSA and A3. Solving the problem is only part of the process. I would say that the knowledge is the most important part, only if used to change thinking and stop further reoccurance.

Have a look at Chasing the Rabbit by Steven Spear, a great read and reference to problem solving. A3 then forms a great method of displaying this learning for effective communication.

Jeff
08/31/2009 10:05 AM
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DanUlmer_ln_a2z
Dan Ulmer



We have used and use A3 reports almost weekly now in our organization. Sure, it is not about the size of the paper but the size 11" x 17" helps to tell the story in a very concise, effective way...A3 reports can be then posted and anybody can see the results of the improvement efforts "at a glance".

The A3 Report follows a logical and a critical thinking process that can be applied in any discipline or situation.

The content follows the logic of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and this combined with such a nice presentation of the results gives the tool its real power.

Indeed, as others mentioned, the tool itself is less important than the thinking promoted by using it.
08/31/2009 03:26 PM
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Robert_Simonis
Robert Simonis



I use two books to understand A3. One is "Understanding A3 Thinking" by Sobek and Smalley and "Managing to Learn" by John Shook.

The first explains the format and nuances of the format, the second is use of the A3 to mentor and learn.

I think both are necessary to understand the A3.
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