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A Deep Dive into A3 Thinking

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Published on

Presented by Jess Orr

We will cover topics including:

A3 Thinking: A Quick Refresher
When to Use an A3 vs. Other Tools
How to Engage Others in the Process
Change Management 101
The Hardest Part: Sustaining the Gains

Hosted by KaiNexus

About the Presenter:

Jess Orr
Jess is a continuous improvement thinker and practitioner with 10+ years experience in a variety of industries, including automotive at Toyota. She holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech and two Six Sigma Black Belt certifications.

In her current role, Jess applies her passion for people and processes to empower her fellow employees to make impactful and sustainable improvements. You can connect with her on LinkedIn. Her website and blog can be found at www.yokotenlearning.com.

Published in: Business
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A Deep Dive into A3 Thinking

  1. 1. “A Deep Dive into A3 Thinking” Clint Corley Enterprise Account Executive Clint.Corley@KaiNexus.com Jess Orr Continuous Improvement Practitioner jessorr11@gmail.com
  2. 2. Webinar Logistics • Presentation (45 minutes) • Q&A (10 minutes) – Use the GoToWebinar Meeting Panel to submit a question at any time • Recording link & slides will be sent via email – Also – see the “Handouts” feature and Chat box 2
  3. 3. Presenter Background Jess Orr • Founder of Yokoten Learning (www.yokotenlearning.com) • Continuous improvement practitioner at WestRock, a large paper and packaging company • 10+ years of industry experience, including Toyota • Achieved TBP (Toyota Business Practices) and 2 Six Sigma Black Belt certifications • Holds bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech • Uses A3’s in many applications, from Hoshin strategy to personal life 3
  4. 4. Webinar Overview 1. A3 Thinking: A Quick Refresher • What is the A3 process and why should we consider using it? 2. When to Use an A3 vs. Other Methodologies • How do I know when to use an A3 vs. other tools (i.e. “Just-Do-It” or DMAIC) 3. How to Engage Others in the Process • Ensuring buy-in from all impacted by the A3 4. How to Avoid “Jumping to Conclusions” • How to perform a deep Root Cause Analysis and leverage the team through brainstorming 5. Change Management 101 • How should we handle resistance to change and ensure the changes are well-communicated? 6. The Hardest Part: Sustaining the Gains • How do we promote ownership and accountability and avoid sliding backward? 7. Conclusion, Announcements, Q&A4
  5. 5. A3 Thinking: What and Why? A3 Thinking: • A proven, effective structured problem-solving thought process that is the basis of Toyota Business Practices • ‘A3’ - size of the paper (~11”x 17”) used for communication • More than a tool – a method to guide problem-solving • Used in a wide variety of industries, from manufacturing to software to healthcare Benefits: • Robust process with emphasis on collaborative problem-solving • Prioritizes deep understanding of the problem • Promotes thorough analysis to identify true root cause(s) • Employs an experimental, iterative approach to countermeasures • Focuses on sustaining the gains 5
  6. 6. Recap: The A3 Process 6
  7. 7. Low Medium High Problem Complexity KEY POINT: No one ‘best’ approach – but some more effective than others depending on problem complexity Question 1: How do you know when to use an A3 vs. other tools (PDSA, DMAIC, etc)? Problem Complexity Spectrum Low complexity tools: • PDSA (Plan-Do- Study-Adjust) • PDCA (Plan-Do- Check-Act) • “Just-Do-It” • Kaizen events High complexity tools: • DMAIC (Define- Measure-Analyze- Improve-Control) • DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) • DOE (Design of Experiments) • Agile (i.e. software development) 7
  8. 8. Key considerations: • Solution is generally known – i.e. common best practices such as Kanban, preventative maintenance, workload leveling • Low-cost, low-effort improvements • Sustainment is relatively straightforward Examples: • Workplace organization for higher efficiency (i.e. 5S) • Eliminating/reducing mixed part errors due to known issue • Identifying and implementing initial setup reduction improvements on a printing press • Replicating known best hygienic practices from one hospital to another • Establishing a min/max system for supplies reordering Low KEY POINT: A3 thinking can be applied to low-complexity problems, but “keep it simple” Question 1: How do you know when to use an A3 vs. other tools (PDSA, DMAIC, etc)? Low complexity problems 8
  9. 9. Key considerations: • Solution is unknown and requires high and/or long-term effort • Relevant data are difficult to quantify and/or analyze • Root causes are highly complex (i.e. multifactor interactions, etc) • Multiple unsuccessful attempts to solve problem have been made Application examples: • New software development and testing • Optimizing hospital scheduling with highly variable patient workload • Evaluation and selection of complex power control equipment • Analyzing response of a pharmaceutical chemical reaction • Solving mating components tolerance stack-up issue • Developing a predictive model for SAT passage rates High KEY POINT: A3’s can be used on complex problems – but break into parent / children A3’s Question 1: How do you know when to use an A3 vs. other tools (PDSA, DMAIC, etc)? High-complexity problems 9
  10. 10. Question 1: How do you know when to use an A3 vs. other tools (PDSA, DMAIC, etc)? Key considerations: • Does not clearly fit into low or high complexity criteria • Solution is unknown! • Problem scoped appropriately – can be solved in 1-3 months • Need for long-term, sustainable countermeasures Examples: • High rate of errors in billing invoices • Further machine setup reduction after initial efforts • Decreasing elderly patient falls at hospital • Improving customer satisfaction feedback scores at call center • Reducing temporary employee turnover rate • Increasing average SAT score for high school students Medium KEY POINT: A3 thinking is robust, adaptable, and can be applied to majority of problems A3 Problems 10
  11. 11. • Ensure clarity around why we are working on this problem – are we aligned with key business objectives? • Rely heavily on pre-discussion and alignment with leaders • Seek to understand the motivation behind resistance – Use the Five Why’s to identify root cause(s) • Address common root causes: – Lack of understanding → Meet one-on-one to explain – Lack of priority → “Are we working on the right problem right now?” – Lack of bandwidth → Ask “Will solving this problem improve your daily work?” – Lack of confidence in process → Ask to “suspend disbelief” until results are proven Question 2: What if there is a lack of leadership support for solving the problem? 11
  12. 12. • “Start with Why” – build a collaborative vision • Create a safe environment based on trust • Be transparent about motivations – don’t push an agenda • Actively solicit and implement the team’s input – defer to the process experts • Use ‘one-on-one’ conversations as needed • Consider that it is better implement a lower benefit idea that is ‘ours’ than a higher benefit idea that is ‘yours’ • Reassure them that initial countermeasures are experimental and that failure is not final • Fully delegate ownership of the solutions • Elevate the team – function as support / facilitation Question 3: How do you get ‘buy-in’ from the team? 12
  13. 13. • Ask – do we want to be solving this same problem 6 months from now or fix it for good? • Understand difference between ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ thinking – A3 process engages the ‘rational’ brain • Implement short-term countermeasures to ‘stop the bleeding’ and buy time for deep investigation • Emphasize that multiple PDCA cycles are incorporated into A3 process • Always validate results and adjust as needed • Thoroughly communicate each step of the process using the A3 ‘story board’ Question 4: How can we deal with pressure to find a ‘quick solution’? 13
  14. 14. • Go slow to go fast – take time for thorough analysis • Use data when possible to validate potential root causes • Follow structured process (i.e. “fishbone diagram”) to brainstorm around common categories, such as: Question 5: How can we keep from jumping to conclusions about the root cause(s)? Root Cause Analysis 14
  15. 15. • Brainstorm around each category with the team • Ensure at least 2-3 potential root causes for each category to promote “out of the box” thinking Question 5: How can we keep from jumping to conclusions about the root cause(s)? Fishbone Diagram 15
  16. 16. • Dig deep - understand difference between symptomatic and true root causes • Ask “Why” until true root cause is identified and not logical to ask “why” anymore (does not have to be 5x) • Remember: Ask “Why?” not “Who?” Examples: Question 5: How can we keep from jumping to conclusions about the root cause(s)? The “5 Why’s” 16
  17. 17. • Seek deep understanding of the problem – ‘go to the gemba’ • Establish brainstorming guidelines with team, such as: – No idea too big, too small, or too crazy • Kaizen – small, incremental changes • Kaikuku – large, innovative changes – Respect input of all – benefit of perspective of process experts and ‘fresh eyes’ – Suspend initial judgement of ideas during initial brainstorming • Brainstorm around categories (i.e. 6M’s or 4P’s) • Provide anonymity in idea generation, particularly if leadership is participating Question 6: How can we help the team think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to countermeasures? Brainstorming Techniques 17
  18. 18. 1. Put identified root cause(s) on flip chart 2. Have each team member brainstorm solutions in silence, writing down one idea per sticky note 3. Place all the notes on wall. Read each one to verify understanding. Combine duplicate ideas. 4. “Affinitize’ the ideas by grouping them into logical categories 5. Use selection methods such as nominal group technique or multi-voting to identify potential solutions 6. Narrow further by placing top ideas on cost-benefit matrix (optional) 7. Select final ideas - recommend no more than 3-5 Question 6: How can we help the team think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to countermeasures? Potential brainstorming process 18
  19. 19. • Understand the typical spectrum of responses to change • Root cause for resistance typically fear • Responses are dynamic – can change with time, knowledge, and experience Question 7: What are some recommendations for handling resistance to new improvements? Change response distribution 19
  20. 20. • Rely on “nemawashi” – pre-discussion with those affected by change - ‘preparing the soil’ – Two-way dialogue with purpose of: • Explaining the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the change • Soliciting feedback from stakeholders • Understanding root cause(s) of any resistance Antidotes to fear-based resistance to change: • Knowledge – ensure full understanding of change • Inclusion – solicit and incorporate feedback • Adaptation – reassure that solutions are experimental and iterative • Support – provide ongoing dialogue and resources Question 7: What are some recommendations for handling resistance to new improvements? Prevention and reaction to resistance 20
  21. 21. Question 8: What are the best methods to manage change communication for improvements? ADKAR Change Management Model • What is the change? • Who is impacted? Awareness • Why the change? • What’s in it for me? Desire • Training – verbal and written (i.e. “One Point Lesson”) Knowledge • Verify change is understood and applied Ability • Resources and ongoing support • Adapt as needed Reinforcement 21
  22. 22. Question 9 Question 9: How do you follow through on actions and accountability in sustaining the gains? • Accountability < OWNERSHIP • Have a system for managing sustainment activities • One owner per action item – can delegate work but ultimately responsible for results • Thoroughly communicate the what and why– but let owners determine the how and when (with guidance) • Follow-up on pre-determined frequency • Set the standard – own your stuff • Make progress visible – control charts useful to prevent overreaction • Ensure owners have needed support - ask “How can I help?” • When gaps occur, suspend judgement – start with asking “Why?” • Recognize achievements Promoting “Ownership” 22
  23. 23. Question 9 Question 9: How do you follow through on actions and accountability in sustaining the gains? Control Plans • Control plans ensure robust follow-through on sustainment activities • Establishes the what, who, when, and trigger points for action 23
  24. 24. • Consider complexity of problem when choosing approach • Attempt to understand root causes of lack of support / resistance • ‘Start with why’ and sincerely engage team members to ensure buy-in • Use collaborative brainstorming methods for robust root cause analysis and countermeasure identification In Conclusion… • Maintain discipline in the process – resist pressure to jump to conclusions or ‘quick solutions’ • Use “nemawashi” (pre-discussion) to prevent and react to resistance • Focus on thorough and effective change management • Emphasize ownership vs. accountability • Always remember – “Progress over perfection” 24
  25. 25. Additional Resources Further reading: • Managing to Learn by John Shook • Developing Lean Leaders at All Levels by Jeffrey Liker • The Toyota Engagement Equation by Tracy and Ernie Richardson • The Speed of Trust by Stephen R. Covey Connect with Jess: • Website: www.yokotenlearning.com - Coaching available • LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jessorr • Email: jessorr11@gmail.com 25
  26. 26. Announcements (Then Q&A) 26
  27. 27. Other Resources www.KaiNexus.com 27
  28. 28. KaiNexus Podcasts • www.KaiNexus.com/podcasts • Subscribe via: – iTunes – Google Play – Stitcher 28
  29. 29. Q&A • Web: – www.kainexus.com – blog.kainexus.com – www.yokotenlearning.com • Webinars on Demand: – www.kainexus.com/webinars • Social Media: – www.twitter.com/kainexus – www.linkedin.com/company/kainexus – www.facebook.com/kainexus Clint Corley Enterprise Account Executive Clint.Corley@KaiNexus.com Jess Orr Continuous Improvement Practitioner jessorr11@gmail.com 29

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