Monday, April 30, 2012

A3 Creates a Population of Teachers

 A learning organization is full of people who learn 50% of the time, and teach 50% of the time. How many times are great improvements made in YOUR company and a small percentage of people even know they happened? By "closing" A3s, you ensure that TEACHING occurs, and often, the lessons learned can be applied to other problems in different parts of the company.

At my company, which consisted of ~90 people, we closed over 350 A3s in one year. Small, continuous improvements. We NEVER did kaizan "events". Instead, our interpretation of "respect for people" was that we would encourage and help people improve their jobs. The result was time being taken from ALL processes, moving toward FLOW.

Once a team of 3 to 5 people  had worked their way through these problems, they would next need to "close" or get it off the board. Late Thursday afternoon was closing day. Everyone who could come came. The A3 leader would then get up, in front of his peers, and take them through what they did. Often, the audience would accompany the team to where the work was done (more SHOW than tell). A presentation would be prepared (short on style, long on substance). Then the fun started. Their peers would ask questions, and often challenge the A3 (DMAIC) thinking. Did you consider this? How did you get to root cause? Anyone could challenge anyone. Once done, everyone would vote, thumbs up or down, whether the A3 was closed. If it was more thumbs down, the A3 would stay open. 

Imagine how this ACCELERATED our learning as an organization! People spending time together every week hearing about our processes and improvements to them. Think about the learning curve for new people! Think about how confident and good A3 leaders got at presenting their learning! On one Thursday afternoon, people closed 5 A3s in 70 minutes. And it wasn't an easy group of people to convince. You had better have done your homework!

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