Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A3 as a "JUST-IN-TIME" Condition Builder

 The past few blogs have been extolling A3 as the vehicle to accelerate continuous (all-the time) improvement activity throughout your business. Small, never-ending improvements that make processes a little faster by spotting and eliminating the 8 wastes. I've told you how it can leverage your diversities and helps create a culture of ownership. In this blog, I will explain how A3 creates a culture of "we NEED to find time to do improvements"!

The A3, by the untrained eye, looks like a form. An A3 team consists of 3-5 people including the leader. A good A3 problem is something that costs us TIME. The team is selected by the A3 team leader. Then the fun starts. The team must come to agreement on what the current condition is. They do root cause analysis (fishbone, 5 why, etc.) to determine why the current condition exists. Then they agree to a TARGET condition and an implementation plan to get them there. Then they come to consensus of WHEN they will have accomplished their goal. If the problem they are working on is URGENT, the proposed date should reflect that. Once the date is agreed to, the publicity campaign starts. On a project board in a prominent place, the projects name, the owner's name, and the promised end date are all visible for everyone to see (along with their peer's projects, names and dates). It is the role of the LEAN LEADER to work with every A3 leader to remove any and all obstacles so the DONE date can be realized. Also, it is his/her responsibility to ask WHY that date. When that date comes, the A3 team presents their learning to as many of their peers as possible (takes 15-20 minutes).   

With practice, people get better and faster at solving problems. THIS is what gets measured. A dashboard that compares people's ability to solve problems on time (how well they work the A3 process) gives visibility to the lean leader's ability to guide A3 leaders as well.

We all know the best reason to do LEAN is  we HAVE to. Everyone is on board. Proper leadership of A3 using the dashboard described above accomplishes the same goal by tapping into the competitive nature of humans. The better people get at A3, the faster your customer gets what they want, when they want it.

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