We’re all inclined to feel more comfortable with our normal behavior. When asked to change, we often become uncomfortable and anxious. But change can be exhilarating And often enhances creativity.
This tool is used pervasively at Toyota. It is one of the “cornerstones” of TPS (Toyota Production System) It is named from the fact it was developed on the A3 paper size (a metric equivalent 11”x17” page). This was the largest paper that could be faxed. By using a 3-hole punch and tri-folding the A3, they can be stored in a thee-ring binder. It is typically first prepared with pencil and paper using PDCA methodology.
Do you have a good understanding of the situation? Is the current situation normal or abnormal? What do you plan to do? How are you going to check it? What countermeasures are needed?
Lean Product Development
Lean Product Development
• Fold your arms
• Which arm is on top?
• Unfold your arms and refold them with the
opposite arm on top.
• Some will find it easy. Some may not.
• Does the new position feel comfortable?
• In today’s globally competitive environment
speed is everything.
• Design teams need to be fast, flexible and
• Applying Lean in product development
requires optimizing the growth of knowledge
about the product, customer, and
• Lean Product Development -
A practical approach to accelerating time-to-
market through aggressive waste elimination
in planning, resource management, design
control, and interdisciplinary communication.
3 Key Elements
• Lean Product Development Process
1. Driving waste out of the product development
2. Improving the way projects are executed.
3. Visualizing the product development process.
Lean the Process
• By closely examining
the entire product
from a Lean
opportunities to drive
out waste and increase
value become obvious.
• Learn to identify the
– Over Production
– Excess Processing
• Defects are the result of executed processes
that did not produce value.
– Incomplete information
– Quality is lacking or suspect
– Reworking product of processes
– Ambiguous information
– Inaccurate information
– Missed tolerances or specifications
• Waste from producing product that is not
currently needed or product that is not
needed at all.
– Too much detail
– Unnecessary information
– Cost overruns from excessive time
– Overlap of strategic and non-strategic projects
competing for limited resources
• No value added while people wait for product
to process or product waits for people or
– Unbalanced workflow with the team
– Time spent getting approvals
– Unavailable information
– Hand offs, where we pass something to someone
• The waste of underutilized intelligence and
intellect are commonly referred to as
– Underutilizing people’s knowledge and creativity
– Uneven workflow resulting with some team
members overburdened while others are
• While the product is moving, no value is
added to it.
– Carrying, mailing, or even emailing documents
stops the process
– Electronic system hand offs
– Multiple sources
– Incompatible destinations requiring multiple
• Inventory is the collection of unprocessed
documents, data objects, and transactions
queued-up between people and processes.
– Collections of unprocessed information and data
– Incomplete content
– Too much information
• Excess movement by people or equipment
only consumes time and resources without
– Efficiency of software – number of mouse clicks,
routines, and transactions
– Frequency of searching for information
– Information pushed to wrong people
• Doing more than what is necessary to
generate satisfactory value as defined by the
– Using software that functions beyond what is
– Product designs or processes that are too complex
– Excessive number of iterations or verifications
– Over-designed or over-engineered product
• In a Lean environment, the expectation is that everyone has
– First, to run the business on a day-to-day basis.
– Second, to improve the business, or contribute to improving it
• Improvement efforts are generally categorized by the scope,
scale, and duration of the improvement task.
– Longer duration, more complex improvement tasks require the
problem solving team to utilize a project.
• How do we standardize, communicate, and visually manage
project management process effectively?
– In the Lean environment that is something called an A3.
A3 - What is it really?
• The A3 is a “way of thinking”.
• Complex situations broken into a simple data driven stories.
• It forces you to filter and refine your thoughts to fit on one
sheet of paper in such a way that management has all of their
major questions answered by reading a single sheet of paper.
• It is a way to coach and develop associates by providing a
forum for discussion about the specific point in the story and
the thinking behind it.
• Consensus building tool through the
• A good A3 should “tell a story” about a proposal,
project, problem, or process.
• It balances words with graphics to tell the story.
– Find the most effective graphics to emphasize your ideas,
plans, and/or results.
• Every word or graph on the A3 should mean
• Use underlined or bold text to focus attention on key
Characteristics of an Effective A3
• Easy to read
• Involve team members to create
• Data-driven and factual
• Clear objectives and statements
• Analysis of the situation or problem
• Cost evaluation or alternative evaluation
• Clear action plans
• Clear follow-up activities
• Share the lessons learned
– You can solve the problems, but if you don’t share what
you’ve learned, you have missed a key opportunity.
General A3 Flow – PDCA
Plan – Do – Check - Act
Make the Process Visual
• Visual boards displaying necessary
information provide a status at a glance.
• “Stand-up” meetings in combination with the
visual boards allow for optimized
• Monitor the process with metrics.
Keys to Visualization
• Entire system is visible
in one place.
• Weekly updates and
review at the board.
• Can see WIP in process
• Individual A3’s provide
specific project detail
on granular level.
• Identifying, qualifying, and funding projects/programs that
address the business strategy.
• Managing organizational resource demand, capacity, and
• Measuring performance to ensure that projects/programs are
collectively meeting the portfolio strategy.
• Identifying and taking corrective actions on
projects/programs not in compliance with portfolio objectives
• Establishing effective communication and reporting
mechanisms that enable timely, fact-based, decision-making
regarding projects, programs, and the overall portfolio.
• Implementing a process to continuously improve the
Monitor the Metrics
• % projects on schedule
• Total value of projects in portfolio
• Total headcount assigned to the
portfolio of R&D projects
• Planned vs. Actual spend
• # projects completed
• # projects added
• # projects in each stage of the
• Remember that the pursuit of Lean is a
relentless journey and requires strong
commitment to change and continuous
• A Lean Product Development Process will
drive profitable, sustain growth and customer
Founder & Contributor
A Lean Journey Blog