5.  REVIEW AND ADJUST

Now that you have implemented your countermeasures looking to bring your process towards its future state, it’s time for you to evaluate the processes and results brought by these actions.

When evaluating processes and results, we often come across with one of these four scenarios:

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Bad process and bad results: it’s ok, at least you and your team learned during the process.

Bad process and good results: this was probably luck. Take a closer look at your data and make sure this wasn’t a false-positive.

Good process and bad result: that’s impossible. If you have a good process in place, good results will follow.

Good process and good results: that’s what we want to hear. If you got here, celebrate and make this a standard.

Standardize success, learn from failures

Let’s face it: sometimes even though we have thoughtfully planned our actions, the results may not be what we expected.

If the results match or exceed what we designed, great! If they don’t, also great, because your organization has learned with it. Ask yourself

  1. What actions worked and what didn’t work? 
  2. What does the data say?
  3. Where did you deviate from the plan?

Look back at your project, measure and analyze your results. If your results show that there is a clear improvement in your operations, make it the standard. If something didn’t go as planned, review it, learn from it and pivot – trying a new approach to this problem.

CASE: Purchase Process at Acme

Process improvement project at Acme’s procurement division.

Problem Statement: For the past six months, the lead time of the purchase process went up 50% (from 6 to 9 days), leading us to miss our yearly customer satisfaction goal. 

Future State: In order for us to attain our customer satisfaction, we are looking to reduce the purchasing process lead time from 9 to 4.5 days in the next month.

Project Results:

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When we analyze the case at Acme, we can see that the results were actually better than expected in all three metrics. In this case, the project was considered successful; the new process was standardized and became the new baseline for further improvements.

Filling in the Check and Follow-up box will be the last step of your A3! Hopefully, when you implement Lean in your processes, this box will be filled with improvements and learnings.

6.  REPEAT!

Now that you have implemented your counter measures looking to bring your process towards its future state, it’s time for you to evaluate the processes and results brought by these actions.

Repetition is the mother of all skills and continuous improvement, one of the pillars of Lean thinking, is an ongoing effort to deliver positive incremental changes that over time can cause a significant impact in any business. If you continuously follow these steps with determination, it’s only a matter of time for your whole organization to be “leaner and meaner.”

Can’t visualize it? Let’s do a simple exercise. Imagine that, for a year, you improved anything 1% daily. By the end of this year, you’d have improved more than 37x.

That’s the power of continuous improvement.

The power of tiny gains

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So, here is the most valuable tip we can provide: stick to the continuous improvement mindset, keep looking for improvement opportunities and running Lean projects. Magic will happen over time.

ALL IN ON LEAN