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Why Your A3 Needs the IK


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A common question in the Lean community is, "How does the A3 fit with the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata?" This SlideShare provides answers and is intended to generate more effective practice of scientific thinking in your organization. Watch the related video at:

Published in: Business, Health & Medicine

Why Your A3 Needs the IK

  1. 1. © Mike Rother A3 + IK Why Your A3 Isn't Working & What You Can Do About It 1 By Jeff Liker, Mark Rosenthal, Mike Rother and Jenny Snow-Boscolo February 2014
  2. 2. © Mike Rother A3 + IK 2 WHAT ARE A3 REPORTS? • Used at Toyota • One side of A3-sized sheet of paper (~11 x 17 inches) • A process of creating an unfolding story
  3. 3. © Mike Rother A3 + IK 3 A3 AT TOYOTA Developing an A3 story forces you to filter and refine your thoughts to fit on one large sheet of paper, in such a way that your manager has their (major) questions answered by reading that sheet. Only short A3 training is available at Toyota – maybe an hour or two. A3 report writing skill is learned from your Coach/manager and a lot of experience. 1) It’s not just a report. The document evolves along the way with the process of learning. That process is more important than the A3 itself. 2) It’s part of a method for teaching (coaching) systematic, scientific habits of thinking and working. 3) It’s also a method for building consensus.
  6. 6. © Mike Rother A3 + IK WHAT'S THE PURPOSE OF THE A3 TOOL? Many of us have heard the stories from Westerners who went to work at Toyota... At the start of their Toyota career they're given an assignment and have to create an A3 as they work on that assignment. As a result, of course, the A3 tool and format became central in their thinking about Toyota's approach. However, the A3 format / tool itself is primarily a medium to facilitate communication between a Toyota Mentor and their Learner. The goal is not the A3 itself, but to teach the Learner a scientific pattern of thinking and acting as the Learner works on a real assignment or problem. Here's a sobering point for users of the A3 outside of Toyota: The choreography of that thinking pattern lies more inside the Mentor's head than in the A3. Just using the A3 does little. 6
  7. 7. © Mike Rother A3 + IK CHANGE TAKES MORE THAN THE A3 TOOL A lesson learned in the Toyota Kata research is that A3 is a Toyota tool that's used there in the context of corrective coaching by an experienced mentor. When A3 gets used in other organizations without this underlying component, the probability of A3 developing systematic, scientific thinking & acting is low. The thinking and behavior patterns at Toyota are held in their seasoned coaches, not in the A3 tool format The A3 Tool The desired pattern of thinking & acting is here Experienced Mentor 7 At Toyota
  8. 8. © Mike Rother A3 + IK RESEARCHERS WHO BENCHMARK TOYOTA TECHNIQUES CAN REACH ERRONEOUS CONCLUSIONS The A3 document and associated coaching is a Toyota technique that helps managers teach a scientific pattern of thinking in parts of the company. What's important from a tech-transfer point of view is the pattern of thinking (modeled by the Improvement Kata), which gets actualized in various ways throughout the Toyota organization. 8
  9. 9. © Mike Rother A3 + IK WHAT SHOULD WE DO? We're not at Toyota and we don't have an experienced Toyota mentor (manager) coaching us 9
  10. 10. © Mike Rother A3 + IK PRACTICE THE IMPROVEMENT KATA AND COACHING KATA A3 as it is used to train people at Toyota and the Improvement Kata / Coaching Kata (IK/CK) are aimed at the same purpose: Developing scientific thinking skills (clarity of objective, conducting experiments, striving based on facts and data). The A3 alone is more of a summary of a problem-solving process. If used correctly, the Learner is going through it with coaching, and hence practice, at every step. At Toyota the coaching is not structured and it is not necessarily daily. There is no formal coaching protocol and no protocol for daily practice, though ideally that is what is desired. It is up to the Coach to determine the frequency and approach. This means the A3 requires a higher level of coaching skill. The Improvement Kata & Coaching Kata make this process more explicit, teachable and transferrable. The purpose of the IK & CK is to systematize the practice – as in sports & music – that’s more implicit in Toyota's already-strong culture of improvement. Practicing the routines of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata teaches foundational thinking that makes the A3 effective at Toyota. 10
  11. 11. © Mike Rother A3 + IK Practice the structured routines of the Improvement Kata pattern... SCIENTIFIC THINKING IS A FOUNDATIONAL SKILL And get better at... • Handling deviations from a standard • Using the A3 • Heijunka • Respect for people • And so on 11
  12. 12. © Mike Rother A3 + IK BEGINNERS NEED PRACTICE ROUTINES! 12 Both the Learner & Coach benefit from having practice routines for developing foundational skills and mindset
  13. 13. © Mike Rother A3 + IK THE IMPROVEMENT KATA & COACHING KATA INCLUDE PRACTICE ROUTINES 13 The IK & CK model scientific thinking & acting, and have structured routines for practicing and teaching that pattern
  14. 14. © Mike Rother A3 + IK THREE SUGGESTIONS FOR A3 USERS 14
  15. 15. © Mike Rother A3 + IK 1) ADD THE IK/CK PRACTICE ROUTINES INTO YOUR A3 ACTIVITY The IK/CK routines are a way to practice and build skills, but there's no need to abandon the A3. If you're already using A3, you can practice the IK/CK routines within your A3. 15
  16. 16. © Mike Rother A3 + IK SPECIFICALLY 16 PLANNING EXECUTING IK/CK practice routines, as detailed in the online 'Improvement Kata Handbook'
  17. 17. © Mike Rother A3 + IK EXAMPLE 17 1. Identify the Problem (Include Challenge and Current Condition) Terex Problem Solving Report TOPIC/Focus Area: Date/Name: 2. Set a Target (Define next Target Condition) 3. Analyze Causes (Perceived Obstacles Parking Lot) 5. Check & Evaluate (Final results to achieve Target Condition) 6. Act/Standardize (Yokoten to share best practice) Challenge Statement Current Condition/Gap: 4. Propose &Test Countermeasures (PDCA Cycles Records) Example by Jenny Snow-Boscolo
  18. 18. © Mike Rother A3 + IK VIDEO: The Role of Kata in Lean (next page) 18
  19. 19. © Mike Rother A3 + IK 19 2) USE THE A3 FORMAT AS A SUMMARY Check and Act can reflect on the process of working toward the last Target Condition, in preparation for defining the next target condition 1. Identify the Problem (Include Challenge and Current Condition) Terex Problem Solving Report TOPIC/Focus Area: Date/Name: 2. Set a Target (Define next Target Condition) 3. Analyze Causes (Perceived Obstacles Parking Lot) 5. Check & Evaluate (Final results to achieve Target Condition) 6. Act/Standardize (Yokoten to share best practice) Challenge Statement Current Condition/Gap: 4. Propose &Test Countermeasures (PDCA Cycles Records) Conduct a reflection with key stakeholders: A3 to review one Target Condition effort A3 can be used to summarize information from the Learner's Improvement Kata storyboard, as a major reflection or reporting activity once a target condition is reached.
  20. 20. © Mike Rother A3 + IK 20 The A3 is particularly useful for individuals trying to get cross-functional agreement and engagement, by having a crisp, clear story to circulate and get alignment and build consensus. 3) USE THE A3 FOR CONSENSUS BUILDING
  21. 21. © Mike Rother A3 + IK WHETHER IMPROVEMENT KATA OR A3, YOU’LL NEED: • A clearly patterned improvement/striving process. • Broken into elements to practice each element. • An experienced coach with a defined coaching pattern, to provide corrective feedback. • Experiments to iterate toward the target condition. • Involve those affected. • Frequent reflection/adjustment, and a major reflection for closure. 21
  22. 22. © Mike Rother A3 + IK CONCLUSION The Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata are structured teaching tools to shift underlying thought patterns. The idea is that as proficiency is developed and the scientific skills and thought patterns take hold, the structure of the coaching dialogs can move in the general direction of Toyota's “This is just how we think and do things" culture. Getting the IK/CK patterns established is an early target condition. The Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata are for organizations that don't think and act scientifically by default, but want to learn to do so. That means they are in deliberate practice mode, and the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata provide a structure for that practice. 22
  23. 23. © Mike Rother A3 + IK 23 FOR MORE DETAIL: Practice Guide available on the "Toyota Kata Website" IK & CK Practice Guide The online Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata Practice Guide is the resource for practicing and coaching the routines of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata