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Lean Tools, Training, and Systems

Approval Process

Approval form for lean problem solving

Approval Form Template

Purpose of your Approval template

It has been said that the most important part of your entire system for continuous improvement
might be your Approval System for the way that you:

  1. encourage people to come up with good ideas
  2. rapidly and wisely approve them to champion their ideas

"Pull-based authority may be the most important JIT element of the entire Toyota system."

~ John Shook, author of 'Managing to Learn'

Why would you leave something that important to sloppy chance?


Your Systems2win Approval form can be inserted into ANY problem solving workbook,

to provide a familiar, standardized visual management system

to define which project approvals are needed, obtained, and still missing for each of the

4 Approval Stages for Problem Solving

  1. Authorization to Begin This Project
  2. Problem Analysis
  3. Countermeasures
  4. Authorization to Implement

as well as status updates for the follow-up Period Reviews,
and the final stage to Standardize and Share Success

so that your leaders systematically and repeatedly ensure that your teams
actually succeed with their chartered missions... (not just start them)

Approval template

How to use your

Approval template

Find and open your template

Find and open your
Approval form template


in the same way that you find and open
your other 150+ Systems2win templates.

Excel Ribbon bar > Systems2win menu

Save your working document

following the usual document storage and naming conventions established by your leaders

Open a Blank Sheet

When you're ready to start doing your own real work...

click the button to 'Open a Blank Sheet'

Excel Ribbon bar > Systems2win tab > Open a Blank Sheet

This blank sheet is where you will do your real work

(not on the Sample sheet — which gives you sample data that is extremely helpful for learning how to use your new tool, but is the wrong place to do your real work)

Systems2win menu > Open a Blank Sheet

Rename your new sheet.

Or... Insert Sheet

As an alternative to opening a stand-alone document (as instructed above),

you also have the option to Insert Sheet into any other Excel workbook.

Any Problem Solving Method

Although this Approval Form Template
was originally designed for the typical 4 phases
of the A3 Problem Solving Method,

it turns out that those same 4 approval phases are common to many other problem solving tools

And you can easily use the 'Insert Sheet' button to add an Approval form sheet
to any type of problem solving tool in any Excel workbook.

A3 Report


Become familiar with your Approval Template

Approval form

Sample Approval form example

4 Stages of Approval Process

The approval process for any problem solving tool or method usually consists of...

4 stages

0. Proposal

(see types of A3 Reports)

1. Authorization to Begin This Project

Primary Decision-makers and the Mentor must agree to authorize the Project Leader to devote time and resources to this project

2. Problem Analysis

The Mentor should be the last to sign off — after all other stakeholders have agreed that the presenting problem and its root causes have been sufficiently analyzed

3. Countermeasures

The Mentor should be the last to sign off — after all other stakeholders have agreed that alternative measures have been sufficiently identified and improved upon

4. Authorization to Implement

Primary Decision-makers and the Mentor must agree to authorize implementation of the proposed countermeasures

followed by Periodic Reviews

Keep scheduling periodic reviews
until satisfied that the desired improvements have proven to be sustained

followed by final status

After a series of periodic reviews, the final status is either:

5. Completed

Periodic Reviews confirm that this problem solving project has been successfully completed.

X. Lessons Learned

The problem solving project was terminated without ever reaching its objectives.
Learning Lessons have been documented and socialized.

testimonial quote

Now your team is ready to start your

Approval Process

Identify Decision Makers and Stakeholders

Identify the people with authority to make final decisions for any proposed changes.

Identify all Stakeholders that might be affected. (groups and individuals)

Optionally provide contact information, using Comments and/or Links.

See online training for document Author and Mentor.

Obtain approvals to Begin This Project

Work with the Mentor and primary decision-makers
to choose representatives for each affected stakeholder group.

Perhaps grey out cells if an approval is not required for every phase.

As demonstrated in the sample data on the Sample sheet
for the HR Manager that does not want to participate in Periodic Reviews.

A3 Report - top section

Near the top of your A3 Report Word template,
use an 'X' to mark each completed Approval Phase

Obtain approvals at each next stage

As you go through the stages
of your chosen Problem Solving Process,
use this approval form to:

  1. formalize consensus
    that the root problems have been identified
  2. formalize consensus that all countermeasures have been sufficiently explored
  3. remind people of the participation they have had in the shared ownership of the proposed changes that will require everyone's commitment to implement.

As approvals are completed for each phase,
also keep your A3 Report updated with a brief summary of approvals needed and obtained.

A3 approvals

Near the top of your A3 Excel template,
use the dropdown list to indicate Approval Phase.

Perform Periodic Reviews

As soon as Implementation gets started,
schedule the date for the first Periodic Review.

If results do not meet expectations,

keep scheduling Periodic Reviews
until the desired results prove to be sustainable.

(Make more copies of the 'Periodic Review' column as many times as needed)


It is okay to add short Comments,

but most comments should be documented
in the Process Analysis document associated with this project


which has a system for recording
much more detailed results of periodic reviews.

Process Analysis

Own this Approval form template

AND many more Lean Management tools


to empower every member of your team to apply Lean Thinking everywhere in your organization






New User Training

Your Systems2win templates come with free New User Training
to quickly learn features that are common to all 150+ templates







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