How to be successful with continuous improvements initiatives

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A3 Report

When working with continuous improvements processes (e.g. quality improvement-, workflow improvement initiatives) you need the right tools to be successful. One of the tools I can recommend is the “A3”.

The “A3” report is a simple storyboard that explains the whole story of an improvement event in one sheet. An ‘A3’ is an outstanding way to communicate to either upper management or the whole organization.

Paper Size

Fun fact: A3 refers to a European paper size that is roughly equivalent to an american 11 inch by 17 inch tabloid sized paper.

A3 Report paper Size 11x17 inch
A3 Report paper Size 11x17 inch

I have created different A3 through my career and they are all different because it has been different improvement initiatives and it takes iterations before it’s finished (at each iterations you are improving the content).

Tips & Tricks

Here are a few tricks to create a successful and appealing A3:

Background

Always explain why — provide the background of the challenge and show what the current situation/flow is and explain the challenge (e.g. we currently experience quality problems, doubt if a new software implementation is fulfilling it’s purpose)

Workshops

To map out the current flow you will need to have a workshop with a cross-functional team (you need a representative for each team who is involved in the process flow). Through the this analysis different corrective actions will natural appear and these are the ones you will need to bring to attention in the A3 report together with an actionplan. Remember to ask: why, who, how and when at the workshop

Illustrations

Illustrations are highly recommended and supports the visual communication. The A3 report is much more approachable with illustrations because you can show a “helicopter view” of a process and then highlight the area where the challenge appears.

Pictures

Pictures of the cross functional team in action and pictures of actually workshop provides the human factor, supports effective communication and teamwork when presenting the A3 report.

One-pager

I’m personally a fan of a one-pager report — it makes a continuous improvements initiative so much approachable when you must present to the rest of the organization.

Examples of A3 reports

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Give it a try!

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