ALIGN: Identify True North Goals

During this phase, we help you determine your organization direction towards your unique “True North” vision and goals. Once you know these things, we help you create
a roadmap and timeline for success.

Many companies begin their journey with Lean by focusing on lean fundamentals like 5S, Visual Management, and maybe a few kaizen events here and there with good success. While this may be an effective approach for getting some early engagement and visibility of Lean across the organization, sustaining momentum this way is a huge challenge. Another thing we see very often is companies searching for their next lean project to meet a corporate directive, for example to conduct a minimum number of kaizen events per year. You can call this “fake” Lean (or doing Lean for the sake of
doing it).

The only way a future-focused organization can avoid such traps is by achieving clarity of purpose upfront, driven by leadership and adopted by all team members across the
organization. We suggest that you think of Lean more like a strategic weapon for long-term, sustained transformation. In this phase, we help you develop precisely this

How will we know if this AWAKEN phase is successful? When your team members not only understand the fundamental concepts of Lean, but also have a taste of what success looks like for the pilot study value stream. This is what helps people stay motivated when it comes to creating enterprise-wide adoption of the transformation work.

We work closely with your company’s leadership team to define your True North goals, typically for the next 3-years. This activity can be tailor-made, depending on the size of your company, to include a cross-functional session in which we perform a SWOT analysis to assist you in establishing your organization’s True North goals. This activity typically requires a 1-day learning session with a team that your senior leadership team identifies.

At a high level, the Hoshin X-Matrix is a tool that expands True North goals to specific initiatives, Kaizen projects, metrics, and owners. It connects True North goals to specific Kaizen focus areas that your company needs to work on in the future for a defined time period. Working with leadership, we facilitate the creation of this matrix. This process helps to provide clarity of purpose for the entire organization.

A3 thinking and planning is the next logical step. The purpose of the “A3” (named after the size of paper you use to create one) is to translate high-level initiatives to specific PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust) plans. An A3 plan clearly defines the Why, What, and How of the work alongside with the risks and contingency actions that your team needs to also address to meet your desired goals for that specific initiative. In this activity, we will guide your team members to create individual A3 plans and focus on those “vital few” essentials that are required for translating high-level strategy into execution.

Here, we provide a brief orientation on how to develop an ideal future state and follow this up with actual visual mapping of the future state. This activity encourages your team members to select key focus areas of improvement within the value stream that you later use to form the basis for your Value Stream Improvement Plan. In some cases, in addition identifying opportunities to eliminate waste in your value stream, you will see opportunities for digitalization. We help you decide which activities, if any, to automate or support with new technologies. This structured set of activities helps accelerate your team’s learning and stay aligned on the entire purpose of the purpose (as well as their role in the change work).

This phase typically requires 4-5 days depending on your leadership team’s resource commitment.

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