Sunday, August 12, 2012

How to Define the Current Condition in A3

After having used and taught A3 for several years, I find that one of the things people sometimes struggle with is coming to consensus with their A3 team in defining the current condition. Many times, we are anxious to go ahead and start fixing....that is do kaizan. As a leader, it is your role to SLOW them down.

Think of the A3 as nothing more than a visual scientific method: DEFINE-MEASURE-ANALYZE-IMPROVE-CONTROL, commonly referred to as the "di-may-ick".

The Current Condition part of the A3 is the MEASURE part of the DMAIC.  So how and what are we "measuring"? Most often, the current condition can best be summed up in one or more of the following ways:
1. Pictures-It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In summing up a current condition,  ask one of your team members to snap some pictures. 
2. Video-this is a great way to show overburden. Many of you have probably heard the story of Taiichi Ohno putting a young engineer in a circle on the plant floor, and making him stay there until he REALLY sees the process and the overburden (8 wastes) that go with it. Video is a great way for MANY people to see the same thing. Upload the video to YouTube, and you can have people anywhere in the world looking at the current condition!! Put the link for the video in the Current Condition box.
3. Data-Customer Complaints, Scrap, Defects, and Costs all help define the current condition.When the A3 first meets at GEMBA (where the problem exists, not in a conference room), the team may not have all the data it needs to paint the picture. Often, another quick meeting is called for the next day or later that day, and the team members come with the needed data.
4. Sometimes, mapping the process is a great way to truly understand the current condition. Do it at GEMBA with a pencil and a clipboard, and eventually a calculator. Staple the map to the A3.

Remember that part of the beauty of A3 is that it leaves no space for pontification or excess verbage. However, in most cases, the current condition can best be spelled out with a combination of 2 or more of the above 5 ways. Also, these will be invaluable when it is time for the A3 closing, and the team is showing their peers how they used the DMAIC to make a solid, incremental improvement toward FLOW!!

If you would like a kickstart in using A3 to create a culture where people in your company are learning, improving and teaching, feel free to send me an e-mail at and I'd be happy to help. 

1 comment:

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