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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: A3 to instill system thinking in the DNA of the organization

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Here again is an issue that has both a philosophical element to it (we’re
one company, not a series of departments), but it also speaks to the real,
pragmatic needs organizations have for getting results. Applying the
scientific method across disparate silos requires that the
functions/departments first have consensus (and perhaps a sense of
urgency) that the problem is worth solving and that the time is “now” to
solve it. A wonderful means for driving the conversations that lead to
both consensus around priorities and actual results is value stream
mapping. In our book that’s coming out in December, co-author Mike
Osterling and I address how we use value stream mapping to shift
organizational mindsets and behaviors–and cross-functional alignment is a
key element of this part of transformation. Use in this way, value stream
mapping becomes far more than an operations design tool.

The other practice I find to be especially helpful in bringing functional
departments together and instilling systems thinking into the DNA of an
organization is A3. Whether coaching a single problem owner or a
problem-solving team, a fair amount of the work in the “P” stage of
PDCA/PDSA is determining who needs to be involved. All too often people
resort to siloed thinking when approaching projects. I find A3 to be a
wonderful practice for developing holistic-minded problem solvers.

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