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The Lean A3

The A3 Method
A3 refers to a European paper size that is
roughly equivalent to an American 11-inch by
17-inch tabloid-sized paper. The A3 format is
used by Toyota as the template for three
different types of reports:
Proposals
Status reports
Problem solving

January 24, 2014


What and Why A3?
Anytime you wish to clearly tell a story, especially
when you wish to simplify or clarify a complicated
issue
Can be used as a jumping off point for Kaizen
Provides a clear and concise method of reporting
information
Method of operation is visible and accessible to all
A continuous improvement activity
Use to teach problem-solving
Creates efficient working environment

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The A3 Method
There is no magic in the steps through which the
structured A3 Problem Solving template takes a
team. These steps are basically:
1. Identify the problem or need
2. Understand the current situation/state
3. Develop the goal statement develop the target state
4. Perform root cause analysis
5. Brainstorm/determine countermeasures
6. Create a countermeasures implementation plan
7. Check results confirm the effect
8. Keep the plan in place!

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BACKGROUND TARGET CONDITION/GOAL STATEMENT

Make the business case for selecting What are you trying to achieve and
the problem. Clearly state how the by when. Predict the expected
problem impacts the business. improvement, specifically and
quantitatively.

CURRENT CONDITION/PROBLEM STATEMENT

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

Indicate the magnitude of the


problem and specific effects on the
business on a qualitative scale, using List actions that will be taken by
graphics if available. whom and by when, in order to
realize the target condition.

ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS

FOLLOW-UP

Why are we experiencing this


problem. Use a root cause tool like How will the effectiveness of the plan be
fish bone, 5-why's or Pareto. measured, when will it be measured and by
whom. Record results of follow-up.

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Example Files Mgmt A3
BACKGROUND TARGET CONDITION/GOAL STATEMENT

Electronic files for the Technical Services Bureau are spread over Develop a filing system that contains a comprehensive and
many sub-folders. It is difficult to find information, and it is difficult to logical set of folders and subfolders.
know where to file information Train users and have them committ to using the new
Time is wasted looking for materials. Materials are duplicated in two system.
or more folders, wasting electronic storage space. Develop a file retention policy and stick to it.
Institute a "dead file" system where files removed per the
retention policy are held for a set period, then deleted.
Stick to it!
CURRENT CONDITION/PROBLEM STATEMENT

Air Tech Services capacity 1.85 TB


Air Tech Services current volume 1.32 TB IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

What Who Date Complete


Develop folders and subfolder Team 3/1/2014
criteria and retention policy
Develop criteria for moving Janelle 4/1/2014
files into new system
Review criteria with team Team 4/15/2014
Move folders to new locations Janelle 5/1/2014
Begin new filing system Team 6/1/2014

ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS

FOLLOW-UP

What Who Date Complete


Review system for excess files Janelle 12/1/2014
Review "dead files" folder Janelle 6/1/2015
and delete
Review annually Janelle no end date

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NEG/ECP Transportation Air Quality Committee

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The Problem Solving Template (A3)

The A3 Problem Solving template lays out an entire plan,


large or small, on one sheet of paper.
It should be visual and extremely concise.
It should tell a story, laid out from upper left-hand side to
lower right, which anyone can understand.
What is important is not the format, but the process and
thinking behind it.
It fosters dialogue.
It develops problem solvers.

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Plan-Do-Check-Act

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Problem-Solving Story

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Problem solving story -
manufacturing

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Problem solving story -
manufacturing

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Additional reading
Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical
Component of Toyota's PDCA
Management System (2008),
Durward K. Sobek II

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Final thoughts
A3s are deceptively simple.
A3 reports and more importantly the
underlying thinking embody a critical core
strength of a lean company.
A3s serve as mechanisms for managers to
mentor others in root-cause analysis and
scientific thinking, while also aligning the
interests of individuals and departments
throughout the organization by encouraging
productive dialogue and helping people learn
from one another.
January 24, 2014