Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are you being S.M.A.R.T. ????

I often ask this exact question in my A3 classes as I'm teaching different problem solving methodologies. A lot of times I get peculiar looks and participants are waiting for a punch line.8) In my opinion being SMART is necessary to create a solid A3 story using PDCA and the 8 steps of Problem Solving. So what is it you may ask?

S- Specific
A- Achievable
R- Realistic
T- Timely
When you are creating your A3's you must go to the Gemba, gather facts/data, involve the team members on the process, and remember your "SMART" goals within each step.

  • You may ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish in your problem solving activity?
  • Why your trying to accomplish it, and how it relates to the company. (Purpose)
  • How you are going to accomplish it? (How much and By When)
  • Don't use words like - "Some" or "Many", a good trainer will always ask you, "How many?" etc.

One of the first things my Japanese trainers taught me in Problem Solving was, "Tracey san, if you can't measure don't do it". Meaning if you can't quantify your GAP how do you know how effective your countermeasures are? Part of being specific is determining a quantifiable GAP in Step 1, therefore you are measuring on the right side of the A3 if you are addressing the root cause.


How are you setting your goals when your problem solving? Are they within your control or influence? Are you relating/aligning them to a key performance indicators within the company? (Quality, Safety, Productivity, Cost). When you set the targets/goals they need to be attainable with a slight "stretch" to them ensuring you are always thinking about continuous improvement or raising the bar on yourself. 8).


Some may refer to this as "do-able". It's not realistic to set goals that can't be met due to lack of resources or possibly skill set at the time. You want the Problem solving experience to "push" or "stretch" someone as they are learning, but not frustrate them to the point of giving up. Sometimes there is a fine line. It is up to the mentor to assist with what is "do-able" at times by knowing their people.


Set a proper time-line for the goal or a target, for example by the end of the week, year, month, in 3 months, 90 days etc. Coming up with a solid goal gives you a time-line to work with.
If you don't set a time, the commitment become too nebulous, or it tends not to happen because you feel you have forever to solve the problem. Without a time limit, there's no urgency to start taking action now.
Time-lines must ALSO be measurable, attainable and realistic.
Everyone can benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART about them when they are problem solving. So the next time someone asks you if your SMART you can say, "As a matter of fact--I am"....

Until next time

Tracey Richardson