A3 Problem Solving Tool

The A3 methodology is problem solving tool and is more than a root cause indicator such as a Fishbone Diagram. The A3 name comes from the size of the paper used, which is 11"*17".

The A3 is considered a problem solving tool that was widely used at Toyota to standardize and simply communication. In many cases it is used as problem solving tool that generally applies subjective analysis

A3 is a key component of Toyota problem solving process that applies to all levels of the workforce. The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is fully encompassed in this tool from the scope to sustaining the gains and spreading them company wide.

It is a communication tool for workers to report problems and gain support to address issues and fix them. For that reason, the A3 is often created by hand and posted in highly visible area. The A3 progress is typically reviewed (during audits or GEMBA walks) on a daily basis. It takes time to complete the tool, it isn't intended to be done in one sitting. 



Structure

There are several variations of the flow within the sheet. Exactly how each sheet of paper may look, the tools used, depends on the problem. The general flow is show below however the most important thing is to capture the key relevant information, in sequential flow, on the paper...the exact location on the paper isn't as important. 

Left Side of A3 - PLAN

Top Left Corner: Similar to a Project Charter. A background and statement of the current state along with a problem statement. A statement about the objective and desired final state.

Bottom Left Corner: Support data such as Pareto Diagrams, Box Plots, Spaghetti Diagrams, Process Map, Time-Series Plot.  The subjective root cause analysis usually involving a Fishbone Diagram and possible simple C&E Matrix and FMEA. Also possible use of the 5-Why methodology.

Right Side of A3 - DO / CHECK / ACT

Upper Right CornerAction register with accountability and dates. Answer the who, what, when, where, and how. 

Lower Right Corner: A measurement plan to verify the results and check them to ensure goals are met. Also a plan to sustain the gains and implement gains to other areas of the company.





A3 Template

Download this  free .zip file for an A3 template in Excel. 




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