Lean Strategy: Use the A3, or the X-Matrix?

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on August 19, 2011 · 3 comments

[viddler id-6f420fe0 h-370 w-437]

In this installment of the Lean Strategy Video Series, we’ll talk about a template used in the concept of Hoshin Kanri called the “X Matrix“. While companies starts their effort to Hoshin Kanri, o lot is put in the emphasis of the X-matrix. While most people want to start with the X-Matrix, the A3 is a better tool to start with.

Show Notes and Approximate Time:

  • 00:19 …Hoshin Kanri which is essentially a Japanese phrase or a lean phrase even, in Japanese, around really policy deployment or strategy building.
  • 00:32 ..this (X Matrix) is a very specific template that has a lot of saddle nature to how its use that really start to connect resources, to the method, to the business conditions that you’re trying to influence.
  • 00:54 My recommendation is this, don’t worry about the X-Matrix. Focus instead on, also another lean tool, as the A3.
  • 01:16 Use the A3 form to really develop those very specific tactical plan.

1 Justin Tomac August 19, 2011 at 10:29 am

Great Advice Jamie! The X-Matrix is not very intuitive and can tend to quickly become complex and then ineffective for most who start off with it. In starting with the A3, this helps a company understand what problems they need to solve 1st…not only tactically, but strategically as well. Once the problems are identified a countermeasure may be the X-matrix.

2 Tim McMahon August 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Jamie, I agree the conversation about strategy is more important than the form that you use. You do need to find what you are comfortable using and stick to it. The x-matrix can be difficult to get used to for some. But like the A3 an important aspect is a filtering of the key or breakthrough objectives. You want to focus on the vital few and execute well. In my experience I use the x-chart for developing the high level plan with some though to the long term goals. Then use A3’s for individual initiatives. Use the bowler chart to indicate status of a few key metrics. Look at countermeasures with data analysis for those metrics your behind on. I guess the process of creating the plan, reviewing the plan frequently, and closing the gap are the essential means of all these various forms. Find what you like and stick to it.

3 Libby Allman August 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

As a leader, I have used both the A3 and the X Matrix. For creating and showing strategy, plans and measures to my leaders, I prefer the X Matrix. For showing problems and potential solutions, I use the A3. They’re both pretty straightforward tools (you can explain either in 10 minutes or less) and I think they serve different purposes. I like that the X matrix will “force” you to publicise your long & short term objectives and associated KPI’s. Regardless of tool, the key is to invest in reflection time (both individually and as a group) for the best outcome.

Previous post:

Next post: