Sunday, April 12, 2015

A3 as a Way to Use Every Single Brain in Your Business


You have heard me talk about the fact A3 is not yet another lean tool. Instead it is a vehicle to drive continuous improvement without having it be a "special event". Instead, CI becomes how we THINK and how we DO our BUSINESS. (the tortoise, not the hare). 

In this blog, I would like to look at just one of many reasons for the power of A3, and that is, leveraging your diversity. We all know that two heads are better than one. What about 3, 4 or 5 heads?  Or, better yet, every single head?

A3 teams should have between 3 and 5 players, including the team leader. Part of the role of the Lean Champion is to ask WHY the players on the team have been selected by the team leader. (After awhile, team leaders will get very good at picking the RIGHT team members, and they might not always be their friends or immediate co-workers). I often think about a video "survival game" where you were involved in a plane crash, and were given the option of selecting 6 items (out of 20) to survive in an arctic environment. Chosen alone, you NEVER survived. Phase two was done in a group, and, by leveraging your diversity, you LIVED!!! 

Working alone on a problem will often result in "jumping to solutions". Or, it just may take longer to get to root cause, consider many alternative countermeasures, and implement. A group of people come from a vastly different set of backgrounds and experience, and as long as they are uninhibited and not intimidated, their approach to problem solving will be unique and different. One of the 8 wastes is underutilized employees, right?

The challenge for the lean champion (and in my case, the "smartest guy in the room"), is to not guide the team to your answer! This challenge took me 6-8 months to master. Trust me, the team's work will be 1000% better than one person's jumping to solution.

Don't interfere with conflict! Nothing makes me happier than some emotion between people trying to come to agreement on what the current condition or root cause is. It tells me they care! Alot! 

To summarize, you can reap the benefits of people's diversity ONLY if you remove yourself, as a leader, from the team. Your role is to ask WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY. Challenge people to dig more!  

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