Completing an A3

Last week I talked about identifying kaizen events that will impact your KPI’s.  That’s a great start.  Hopefully, you have a Lean Game Plan for the quarter and are ready to get going.  While the excitement in your organization is high, before your first event it is important that you complete a project charter or A3.  Here are some tips for completing an A3.


1.  Event Description and Objectives

What are you trying to improve?  In the project charters that I use, there is a section for defining the area and objectives for the kaizen event. This helps you stay focused on one area.  I’ve been in kaizen events where I’ve been asked to take on the area next to where we are working as a team.  Use the A3 stay focused.

It’s also important to identify the objectives you hope to accomplish.  Without a goal, how do you know if you have made improvements?  It’s similar to losing weight.  There is a difference between saying I’m going to lose weight and I will lose 10 pounds by November 1, 2020.  One is vague and the other concrete.

Thinking about the objectives makes you think about the process and everything that is happening in the value stream.

2.  The Team and project sponsors

It is hard to put together the team until you know the area where the kaizen event will occur.  Obviously, you want some participants from people within the process.  I like to have an employee who is the customer of the process.  Consider someone from the area where the next kaizen event will occur.  This helps them learn the process and helps remove fear.

Identify the project sponsors.  Who as a leader benefits from the results of the kaizen event?  Who asked for the event to occur?  These are all project sponsors.  No kaizen event should be held without project sponsors.

3. Value Stream Map and process description

Along with impacting your KPI’s, your kaizen activities should impact a value stream.  If find it helpful to have a copy of the value stream within the event.  Develop a clear description of the entire process your event will impact.  Before completing an A3 it is a good idea to walk the process backward.  This helps you understand everything that is going on and walking it backward keeps you from skipping steps.

If necessary, time some of the processes.  Look for WIP in the area.  Look for piles of files if it is an office process.  These show where the delays are.  Ask people what bothers them with the way things are currently.

4.  Financial Summary

I believe companies should conduct kaizen activities because it is the right thing to do and if you aren’t getting better you competition will surpass you.  There are financial impacts you should give thought to and consider when you develop your A3.

What happens if you remove hundreds of pieces of WIP or Finished goods?  What is that worth to the company?  If you can eliminate weeks of lead time what is that worth?  If you cut setup times on machines in half, you can run smaller batch sizes.  What financial impact will that have?

Consider the financial impact of the kaizen event you are completing an A3 for.   Capture that information in the A3.  Even if you achieve 20-50% of the goal, the kaizen event will be a huge success!

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