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Barriers to the effectiveness of the A3 analysis

Why is A3 analysis not working? Find out what is the source of ineffectiveness. Improve the effectiveness of analysis in your organization!

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A3 analysis – can it cause problems?

A3 analysis is a tool used in companies with a problem solving culture. It is also an important element of organizations developing the concept of Lean Management. Properly trained employees in a problem situation know exactly what to do. A team of several people, a flipchart and in a moment an elaborate analysis of problems appears. An excellent example of project team work is A3 analysis. The culmination of the analyses is the identification of root causes and a plan for their effective elimination. As a result, processes and financial results and other KPIs should be better. In reality, however, in many situations this is not the case.

Despite the amount of work, time and commitment of employees, the results are not visible. Additionally, the lack of success is causing companies to engage more teams and conduct more and more complex analysis. This in turn causes even more time and energy to be wasted, people are demotivated, and the results are still not visible. This approach can create reluctance among employees to use standardized problem-solving methods.

Why does A3 analysis fail?

In answering the above question, it is important to consider the reasons for the lack of results from the analyses performed. Certainly, the issue that should be focused on is the human aspect. It is the skill, commitment and knowledge of the project team that largely determines the success of the analysis to successfully eliminate the identified problem. But don’t forget that ineffective qualitative analysis (and more) can be the result of working with false data, reporting errors, or incorrect templates for analysis that can end up disrupting the entire process. However, experts’ experience shows that the human aspect is the main reason for the inefficiency of problem solving. It not only applies to A3 analysis, but also to other problem solving tools.
A cause-and-effect diagram (Ishikawa diagram) is presented below. The diagram lists the most common causes of problems related to the effectiveness of analyses.

Identifying the potential causes of problems is just the beginning of the journey to improvement. It is worth emphasizing that a company struggling with the problem of ineffectiveness of A3 analysis (and not only) should conduct its own analysis in order to identify the causes in a given organization.

A3 analysis – main causes affecting the effectiveness of the method

Ignorance of problem solving methodologies

It is common to see a situation where a project leader, after theoretical training on a given tool, is launched into „the deep end”. Performing a problem analysis on your own, without the support of an experienced person, may simply become unfeasible. And relying only on intuition, without experience and process knowledge can be risky. Unfamiliarity with the methodology negatively affects the quality of the analysis itself, and the defined preventive and corrective actions may prove to be misguided. As a result, the project leader will be discouraged and reluctant to participate in such projects in the future.

Poorly defined roles in project teams

Each role has its own tasks and responsibilities in the project. The leader must ensure that the analysis is completed and actions are implemented. The role of the coach is to ensure the quality of the analysis itself in terms of methodology. The sponsor should ensure that the actions taken are effective. If each party fails to do its role properly, the result will be that the defined activities, standards and solutions will not be implemented or will only be partially implemented. Then they will not deliver the expected results. The stage of completing the project and incorporating the activities developed in the project into everyday work is particularly important. At this stage it is crucial to determine who will take over supervision of these activities. It is also necessary to determine how long this supervision will last so that the effects are sustainable.

The need to evaluate the effectiveness of the entire project should also be emphasized at this stage. This activity is often overlooked.

Failure to assess potential risks

In many companies, risk assessment is treated as an unnecessary part of the project. Members of teams formed to fix an identified problem generally assume that nothing bad will happen. In the early stages of analysis, no one thinks about what risks are associated with the project. Keep in mind that problems are inherent in any project. The team must be prepared for potential risks. And a lack of risk estimation causes chaos and, at best, prolonged project delivery.

Lack of project prioritization

Organizations often carry out several or more projects at one time. The reason for this is the lack of prioritization of projects. Project initiatives should take into account the strategic goals of the company and respond to the real problems and needs of customers. Focusing on a few “key” projects can yield better results than implementing a dozen projects without prior business case analysis.

Lack of competence of project team members

A project team that does not have sufficient subject matter expertise in the project at hand can end up causing more problems than benefits. The selection of team members is often random. The proejct manager should always take competency and social considerations into account when selecting individuals for the project team. “Designing” the team should take into account the experience, skills, availability, process and methodology knowledge of the individuals, as well as the so-called “soft” aspects. Team members need to communicate effectively with each other. If this element is not met – they will not want to meet with each other. Then the solutions worked out may turn out to be superficial.

The above list, of course, does not exhaust all possible causes of inefficiency problems in lean analysis and problem solving. Each organization will certainly be able to add its own bottlenecks to this list.

It is worthwhile to lean into this topic and discover where the problem lies. Identifying the sources of the problems will certainly contribute to a more effective fight against losses.

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