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Using ORID to Guide Business Planning

Having worked with many teams over the years utilizing A3s to deploy strategies, I am always looking for ways to make the process clearer and more logical.  As with any type of learning, what helps one person connect the dots and better understand the process does not necessarily work with another.

I’ve noticed recently how well the hoshin A3 aligns with the ORID (Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decisional) method of questioning.  Based on the Socratic method of learning, ORID is a structured conversation focused on getting a team to arrive at decisions based on the information available.

The process starts with clarifying and understanding the information available, and through a series of questions, guides the team to make decisions based on reflection and interpretation of the information presented.  When applied to business planning, the decisions are the actions or projects to be implemented over the coming period.

Specifically, the ORID stages include the following:

  • Objective:  Covers the facts available to the team, including data and evidence related to the topic being discussed.  This stage requires avoiding personal feelings or opinions about the situation and keeps the discussion as objective as possible to calibrate the team’s understanding of the facts;
  • Reflective:  The team discusses how they feel about the facts.  This lets team members relate their personal feelings about the information available to the group, including how they feel about the team’s performance in the current period (did things work well?  did they go as expected? could performance have been better? etc.);
  • Interpretive:  Focuses the team’s energy on interpreting what the facts mean to the organization or the problem at hand.  The interpretive questions move the team to begin identifying potential causes of the current situation or reasons why objectives were or were not achieved.  The output of this stage is a list of areas needing to be addressed to improve performance in the coming period;
  • Decisional:  Specific actions or plans based on the previous stages of discussion.  The actions are focused on addressing the problem(s) identified or developing the plan for the coming period.

The ORID technique can be fairly complex in that it requires a facilitator who can keep the team focused on a specific stage without letting the discussion bleed into the next area phase.  For example, it is perfectly natural for people to want to reflect and interpret the situation – or even make decisions – before the facts are clearly understood, and the facilitator must be able to keep the group focused on an objective review of the information before moving on to next phase (similar to Stephen Covey’s principle of seeking first to understand, then to be understood).

Applying ORID to the A3 process.

ORID & Business Planning

ORID questioning is perfectly aligned with the A3 for business planning.  As shown in the exhibit, the A3 generally follows the ORID process in moving a team from current year performance to an action plan for the coming period.  Sticking to the phases helps the team deploy strategy by clarifying the facts and building a plan based more on logical thinking than individual opinions and operationalizes a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) approach to improving performance.

About Gregg Stocker

Gregg Stocker is a lean advisor for Hess Corporation. He possesses over 20 years experience in a variety of disciplines including operations, manufacturing, human resources, quality, and strategic planning, and has worked in manufacturing, service, and oil & gas industries. He has extensive international experience, including successfully leading an $65 million business in The Netherlands. He authored the book, “Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral: Recognizing & Eliminating the Signs of Decline,” (Quality Press, 2006) and was a contributing author to "The Lean Handbook," (Quality Press, 2012). Gregg is a frequent speaker and recognized expert in business and performance improvement having been interviewed on television, radio, and in a number of newspaper and magazine articles including The New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek, and InformationWeek. Gregg has implemented change in organizations ranging in size from $10 million to more than $100 billion. He is a team-oriented leader who achieves results by improving teamwork, focus, and communication throughout the organization.


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