The Basics of the A3-method (a repackaged version of Toyota Kata)

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The A3-method is very simple and effective Lean project management method designed specifically for small and medium sized improvement projects. The A3-method is simple to learn and get started with and has a good track record for producing results and at the same time developing people.

The A3-method is based on the work of Mike Rother and his research and publications on Toyota Kata.

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  • Own experience with these (SCRUM MASTER and PO),Common history at Toyota for both these methods
  • Examples: 1. Frequency of meetings. 2. Live meetings vs communication tools 3. Who sets the direction – in some cases PM?
  • The Basics of the A3-method (a repackaged version of Toyota Kata)

    1. 1. A3-method Teemu Toivonen
    2. 2. Understanding the context Project size • Not a lot of large projects (> 100 ke) • Small and mid sized projects Personal background • 10+ years of project experience (pm and owner) • Experience with traditional project methods, Lean and Agile Organizational background • Limited project management experience • Ad hoc working culture • Management desire to transition to a more systematice way of working Traditional project management • The track record for a lot of the established methods is not pretty • Likelihood of success is small especially considering the organizational background
    3. 3. Searching for inspiration What are the success stories in small and mid sized projects? Scrum Toyota Kata Neither one directly fits the context, but they contain the ideas needed to succeed!
    4. 4. What problems are we trying to solve with the A3-method? • Misalignment between PM and owner • Problems surface too late • Illusions about the starting condition • Poor communication to stakeholders • Project management methods are too heavy and bureaucratic • Target is unrealistic • No (or too little too late) feedback • Sticking to the plan • Not enough guidance from owner • The big picture is unclear • Results are not sustainable after project • Focus on deliverables instead of purpose • Focus on execution instead of adaptation to reality • No real learning from project to next projects • Ad hoc way of working … and many more. What is your favorite problem?
    5. 5. A3-method principles Go and see Plan-Do-Check-Act Visualization - create a shared mindCommunicate status regularly and clearly to stakeholders Fail fast Focus on learning Frequent face to face communication Quick feedback loops Bias for action Blame free culture Understand why - Clarity about the big picture Purpose over deliverables Light weight PM-model Always know the next step
    6. 6. Although there are a lot of important principles and ideas behind the A3-method, keeping it simple and easy to learn and use is key. The A3-method has is designed in a way that you do not need to understand all the underpinnings to get the results. Instead you get an easy to use systematic working method.
    7. 7. A3-method roles Team member • Participates in the work • Understands the context • Varying participation Stakeholder • Has a stake in the project • Up to date at all times • Can contribute through commenting Project Manager • Project execution • Communication • Analyses • Follows the A3-method Project Owner • Sets the vision • Initial challenge • Escalation channel • Coach the A3-method In this presentation the focus is on the roles of the project manager and owner
    8. 8. A3-process Long term vision ”North Star” + initial challenge 1. Understand the direction + initial challenge 2. Understand the current condition 3. Define the Next target condition + initial plan 4. Experiment your way to the target 5. Reflect, stabilize and start over Next target condition A good target condition is abouth a month or two away PDCA-experiment 1. Hypothesis 2. Experiment 3. Result 4. Learning PDCA experiment your way to the target Current condition Understand deeply
    9. 9. A3-template A3- document Project owner Project manager The A3 is not a form to fill! It is a living document that is updated and revised throughout the A3-process. Shared understanding and active collaboration
    10. 10. Project manager and owner collaboration High frequency face to face communication is a critical component of success. In the initial planning phase everyday is ideal. During the execution phase once a week is a good goal.
    11. 11. Setting the stage The project owner has the main responsibility for this phase. Clarify the direction Set the initial challenge Define restrictions Plan the first steps + communication plan
    12. 12. Understanding the current condition The project manager has the main responsibility for this phase. Go and see is the philosophy. Understand the current situation by thorough analyses Give feedback, ask for clarifications and additional research if needed Document the current situation concisely and based on facts It’s a lot harder to really see than you’d guess
    13. 13. Setting the target condition The project manager has the main responsibility for this phase. A target condition describes both the outcome and process and can be achieved in 1- 3 months . In the beginning shorter is better for learning. Define the next target condition and analyze obstacles Give feedback and ensure alignment with “north star” Make initial plan (outline) on how to get to the next target condition. Plan first steps in detail. A good target condition is both challenging and mindful of the restrictions of the project. The plan is not detailed except for initial steps. Think of rolling wave planning.
    14. 14. Execute and adapt The project manager has the main responsibility for this phase. Make more detailed plans in a JIT fashion. Execute plan with a experimentation mindset. Give feedback and ensure alignment with “north star” and target condition. Adjust plan according to learning. Frequent F2F meetings with owner about progres Rolling wave planning. Executions as experimentation. Fail fast and find a way by learning. Frequent meetings between pm and owner .
    15. 15. Executions as PDCA experiments What is your hypothesis? Design a quick experiment What is the expected outcome? Run the experiment “quick and light” What was the actual outcome? Was it what you expected? What did you learn? Time for update plan! or How do I sustain the results? Points of emphasis Short iteration cycles Go and see Focus on learning
    16. 16. Mindset: Navigate towards the target with experiments Find the route to the target by learning from experiments and focusing on the next step forward based on that learning
    17. 17. Check – did we get there? The project manager has the main responsibility for this phase. A fact based review about the results, process and learning. Give feedback to pm about results and process. Give feedback to owner about his role and coaching. An honest reflection about the results and process based on facts.
    18. 18. Adjusting to the results The project manager has the main responsibility for this phase. Plan how will we sustain the results that were achieved. Schedule checkup meetings. Give feedback. Initiate a follow up project if needed. Plan on how, when and to whom the project learning will be shared with. Although the project phase ends the follow up action items need to be planed and scheduled to sustain the results and share learning.
    19. 19. The project owner as a coach In addition to the traditional responsibilities of the project owner he/she acts as a coach to the project manager in regards to the A3-method. So we are aiming both to get successful projects and develop our A3 capability.
    20. 20. Adjustments This presentation was about the basic recipe of the A3-method. Of course in real life adjustments have to be made according to the circumstances.
    21. 21. A3-process Long term vision ”North Star” + initial challenge 1. Understand the direction + initial challenge 2. Understand the current condition 3. Define the Next target condition + initial plan 4. Experiment your way to the target 5. Reflect, stabilize and start over Next target condition A good target condition is abouth a month or two away PDCA-experiment 1. Hypothesis 2. Experiment 3. Result 4. Learning PDCA experiment your way to the target Current condition Understand deeply

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