Sunday, September 9, 2012

What is an A3 Closing?

One of the biggest advantages of doing steady, continuous, rapid kaizan events using A3 is what I call the "closing". 

Remember that one of the greatest compliments you can give any organization is that it is a learning organization. Our curriculum is to become experts at all of our processes. Become experts at what our customers REALLY want. We need to become experts at moving closer and closer to flow by seeing and eliminating the eight wastes. As the people who are doing the work are learning, they have a responibility to teach also. This is where the closing comes in.

One of the roles of the Lean Champion is to help prepare the A3 leader for the closing. There is a ton of room for growth here. People, in the beginning, are afraid to talk in front of their peers. The Lean Champion needs to help them through this apprehension, perhaps even guiding them through a practice run in front of a smaller group. Although the closing probably averages 20-30 minutes, it should be more 'show" than "tell". Pictures or videos that depict the "before" are great to show at the closing. Maybe a laptop and projector needs to be set up. Make sure the closing is where the work is-where the fixed problem is. You may need to use a  portable microphone and speaker so all of the attendees can hear well. 

The A3 closing is very important for many reasons. The thinking behind how a problem is solved is more important than the fix itself. The closing promotes an attitude of ownership, where people in the audience gain confidence and see themselves closing in front of their peers. Having been involved in hundreds of A3 closings, I have never seen an A3 leader heckled. Or jeered. People WANT the A3 leader to be successful, and the A3 leader will see in retrospect all of the worry was for naught. 

How many people should attend the closing? Let me answer that this many people would benefit from the learning? How magnificently did the team "nail it"? In most cases, all are invited and welcome. 

I always like to think of the A3 closing as one of our processes. And, like the other thousand processes in our business, let's just keep getting better and better at it.

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