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A3 Problem Solving Template
A3 thinking is a logical and structured approach to problem solving adopted by Lean organizations around the world. It can be used for most kinds of problems and in any part of the business. This A3 template uses a four stages model that is based on the PDCA management philosophy. It allows to make the problem solving progress visible to the entire team while allowing the lessons to be learned by others.
This template is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that you can use and modify to meet your specific needs. It can easily be modified to include additional sections if needed. For example, you may increase the number of rows and thus the size of the implementation plan or the follow-up plan. You may also modify headers and spacing as needed.
This template comes in two different variations; one that is simple and user friendly, and another that requires to provide more detailed information. If you have any difficulties customizing this template or you lack time to do so, we will be happy to perform the customization for you. Let us know what you need and we’ll do our best to serve you.
A3 Template (32 KB)
A3 Template – Simple (216 KB)
A3 Template – Detailed (340 KB)
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A3: Thinking, Reports, Examples & Templates
A3 thinking, an introduction to a3.
In the design and construction industry – as in all industries – complex problems arise daily. Each project contains hundreds of decisions containing thousands of variables, and sorting them out to arrive at the best outcome is critical.
A3 problem solving provides teams with a strategy to effectively and efficiently deal with problems that they encounter and decisions that need to be reached. In true Lean fashion, A3 process improvement brings the entire team into the collaborative problem-solving process and allows teams to embrace out-of-the-box solutions.
What is A3?
An A3 is a one-page report prepared on a single 11 x 17 sheet of paper that adheres to the discipline of PDCA thinking as applied to collaborative problem solving, strategy development or reporting. The A3 includes the background, problem statement, analysis, proposed actions, and the expected results.
A3 thinking was developed by Toyota in the 1940s. Toyota believed that any problem should be capable of being explained and solved using one sheet of paper (an 11 x 17 sheet being the largest sized paper that is capable of being faxed and closest in size to the traditional A3).
The company also believed that if a problem is too complex to fit onto an A3 report, it should be broken down into smaller bits that would be solved individually. If your problem cannot fit onto an A3, you should reconsider the scope of what you are hoping to accomplish.
Who Uses A3 Strategies?
Today, A3 strategies are deployed across various industries that employ Lean thinking such as:
- Design & Construction
- Project Management
- Engineering & Architecture
- Service Industries
LCI’s Meaning of A3
A3 thinking is an extremely useful tool when utilized correctly. By distilling the entirety of a problem on a single sheet of paper, A3 Lean thinking forces team members to collaborate and rationalize through the problem solving process. A3 thinking makes for more effective problem solving and produces written explanations that can then be passed on to senior management. An effectively completed A3 report will also build management’s confidence in the team and its ability to solve problems.
A well-written A3 report should show and explain the consideration that went into the counter-measure to the problem listed. Properly executed plans include the input of team members from all across the stakeholder spectrum and should allow members to emerge as leaders in its problem solving. A3 papers can also be referenced later, allowing the lessons learned during the process to be shared with future project teams.
Understanding A3 Thinking
A3 thinking does not provide a solution to the problem your team is facing. Rather, it guides your team’s process to help it reach the best possible countermeasure with the tools it has at its disposal.
An A3 report is to be filled out by one person on the team – the “champion” – who will gather assessments and intel from other members in a collaborative fashion. Bringing all of the knowledge and expertise of the team to bear when solving a problem is the best way to come to a satisfying outcome.
Problem Solving: An A3 Process
A3 thinking allows for many different types of decision-making. But ultimately, all decisions are fundamentally a form of problem solving. For example, A3 thinking can be deployed to guide the team in optimizing decisions during the design phase, or for solving a constructibility challenge.
The First Step to A3 Thinking
The first step of the A3 process for problem solving is to correctly identify the problem. From unexpected lead times on materials to communication breakdowns among design teams, “problems” are in no short supply in the design and construction industry. Before engaging in A3, ask yourself the following questions about the problem you are working to solve.
Questions to Facilitate the Process
- What are you trying to address or solve?
- What is the current situation?
- What are clear Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS) I can develop?
- Where can I brainstorm and analyze the 5 whys/root cause ideas?
- What’s a recommendation I can put forth?
- What is my plan to implement the recommendation above (if applicable)?
State plan to check and adjust using the PDCA cycle.
More on the PDCA Cycle
PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, Adjust. Explore each element of this acronym for more information about how it supports both the problem solving questions above as well as A3 problem solving as a whole.
Identify an issue in your process and exercise continuous improvement by planning your course of change.
Perform your case study by applying the corrective actions outlined in the “plan” stage in an experimental manner.
Follow the performance of your experiment and measure it to determine whether it is having the desired effect.
If your plan worked, implement the change to the necessary areas of your process. If it did not, determine what you will do differently next time and repeat the cycle.
A3 Reports for Solutions
While A3 reports broadly follow the PDCA cycle, the actual journey of an A3 process is a bit more granular. Let’s analyze the various steps and sections of an A3 report.
Describe the problem, theme, or issue. List out all of the details including the champion’s name, date, and the names of all of the collaborators who will be helping with the report.
Establish the business context & importance. Provide additional information on the problem being addressed.
Describe what is currently known about the problem. Note potential variables and roadblocks that may stop your team from solving this problem and additional information you hope you acquire.
Future State or Goal
Identify the desired outcome for your experiment. Identify the Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS) for the project.
Analyze the situation and underlying cause.
Provide a recommendation for process improvement that your team can implement for the future.
Create a follow-up/review process.
A3 thinking is frequently applied in Lean design and Lean construction during all phases of the process for the purposes of making sound decisions. In the example below, A3 thinking is applied to the process of learning Lean design and construction techniques.
The Lean Construction Institute seeks to educate companies all throughout the design and construction industry on Lean practices and methods. Here is our A3 template which you can use to guide your decision-making processes.
The Lean Construction Institute offers A3 training as well as tools , events , education , and networking opportunities for Lean practitioners in design and construction all around the world. Whether you’re a Lean expert or are just learning about Lean for the first time, LCI can provide the tools you need for problem solving and continuous improvement in your business.
William R. (Bill) Seed, Executive Editor
Executive Editors: Kristin Hill, Katherine Copeland and Christian Pikel
More lean topics.
From 5s to IPD, explore more popular Lean design and construction topics below.
Free Lean Six Sigma Templates
Smartsheet Contributor Kate Eby
June 12, 2017
Lean Six Sigma combines two methods that streamline business processes in order to reduce waste, improve quality, and increase efficiency and product value. Both approaches originated in the manufacturing industry - Lean by Toyota and Six Sigma by Motorola - but today they are used to improve many processes within an organization, from customer support to administration. The templates provided here are suitable for Yellow, Green, and Black Belts. You’ll find Six Sigma project templates designed to support the different phases of an improvement process, all of which are free to download. Simply click on the link to download and open a template file, and customize it to suit your needs.
Six Sigma Tools
Six Sigma is a quality measurement that represents 3.4 Defects Per Million Opportunities. That’s a lofty goal for many business processes, but you can use Six Sigma methods to improve quality and performance in varying degrees based on the needs and objectives of a business or project. Six Sigma tools range from statistical charts, illustrative diagrams, and data collection methods to project management and process analyzation worksheets. These tools may not be exclusive to Six Sigma, but they can be applied in specific ways to focus on process improvement. The tools required depend on the project requirements and team roles. Depending on one’s training and experience, a Six Sigma professional may be involved in improvement initiatives at the White, Yellow, Green, or Black Belt level. White Belts generally have supporting roles, while Yellow Belts act as team members, Green Belts collect and analyze data, and Black Belts serve as project leaders. In the following sections, you’ll find a number of free, downloadable templates that you can use as Six Sigma tools.
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Project Charter Template
This Six Sigma Excel template is designed to help you create a project charter that will serve as an agreement between management and your team. A project charter provides an overview of a project including team roles and responsibilities, financial information, goals, and constraints. Creating a detailed project charter will help define your project and its expected outcome, and provide a high-level roadmap to follow.
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Excel | Word | Smartsheet
Implementation Plan Template
It’s important to refer to previous research and planning to help create an effective action plan. Once you know what actions to take, this implementation plan template helps you organize them by priority, assign ownership, track progress, and update the plan as needed. This is an important Six Sigma tool for taking concrete actions toward achieving measurable objectives.
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Excel | Smartsheet
Stakeholder Analysis Template
You can use this template to identify and analyze stakeholders in order to enlist support for a project. The template allows you to closely examine important factors such as issues that may be influencing stakeholders, their vested interest in a project, or the level of influence and support. Understanding the views and expectations of stakeholders can help you anticipate and address issues in advance and move your project toward success.
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SWOT Analysis Template
Use this SWOT analysis template for strategic planning and to create dynamic PowerPoint presentations. List the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to an idea, process, or organization, and use this information for strategic analysis. Easily add this PowerPoint slide to any presentation for visual communication with project team members or other stakeholders.
Download SWOT Analysis Template - PPT
PPT | Smartsheet
Fishbone Diagram Template
A fishbone diagram, also known as a cause and effect diagram or Ishikawa diagram, helps teams brainstorm the causes of a certain event. Use this Six Sigma tool along with the 5 Whys template to determine root causes. One of the benefits of using a fishbone diagram is the visual layout, which makes it easy to compile and view information, and see the relationships between different elements.
Download Fishbone Diagram Template - Excel
A3 is an approach to problem solving that grew out of Lean Manufacturing at Toyota. The A3 report condenses project information onto a single page in an easy-to-read, graphical format. This A3 template provides sections for describing background information, current conditions, root cause analysis, target conditions, implementation plan, and follow-up.
Download A3 Template - Excel
5 Whys Template
A 5 Whys worksheet can help you undertake a root cause analysis to determine the sources of defects or performance issues. After defining the problem, you ask five questions to drill down into why the problem is happening, and track the issue back to its root cause. The final step is to determine what action you should take to eliminate that root cause.
Download 5 Whys Template
Excel | Word | PDF
Project Prioritization Analysis
This template can help you prioritize and select projects based on various factors, such as likeliness to succeed, cost, and how critical a project is to business processes. Once you collect your data, you can also use a Pareto chart to get a visual representation of the results. This Six Sigma project template is a simple tool that can have a big impact on decision making.
Download Project Prioritization Analysis - Excel
SIPOC Diagram Template
SIPOC stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers. A SIPOC diagram provides a high-level, visual overview of a business process, which is helpful for identifying and summarizing all of the elements in a process improvement project from start to finish. This Excel template provides five columns to create a simple, easy-to-read diagram.
Download SIPOC Diagram Template - Excel
Communication Plan Template
A communication plan outlines how and when you will communicate a project to stakeholders. Effective messaging is important for securing buy-in as well as ensuring continued support for the duration of a project. Consistent reporting on project progress and milestones can help keep stakeholders informed and engaged.
Download Communication Plan Template
Excel | PDF
Voice of Customer (VOC) Six Sigma Template
Use this VOC template to gather information about customer expectations and needs. Gaining insight into customer requirements can inform your improvement process and help ensure a successful end product. This template is designed to help you document the voice of the customer and translate those messages into measurable requirements.
Download Voice of Customer (VOC) Template - Excel
Data Collection Plan Template
During the “measure” phase of DMAIC, you can use a data collection plan template as a framework for describing what type of data to collect, how to gather it, when, and by whom. This spreadsheet template provides columns for entering data sources and locations, operational definitions, what statistical tools to use, and more. You can also edit the template to include any additional information that is relevant for your project.
Download Data Collection Plan Template - Excel
A Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) seeks to prevent possible failures in a design or process. This FMEA template is designed to help you follow a systematic approach to identifying, understanding, and preventing failures. The template includes a section for recording what actions were taken to address each issue, as well as the completion date.
Download FMEA Template - Excel
Control Plan Template
During the “control” phase, an effective plan serves as a guide for monitoring process and sustaining improvements. In this simple spreadsheet template, you can document process control activities to help ensure that quality standards continue to be met. Customize the template as needed to create a control plan for your specific project.
Download Control Plan Template - Excel
Cause and Effect Matrix
A cause and effect matrix allows you to evaluate and quantify the relationships between process inputs and outputs. Use the matrix to prioritize process inputs based on the level of impact each one has on outputs. Once you collect your data in the matrix, you can also represent the results in a Pareto chart.
Download Cause and Effect Matrix - Excel
Pareto Chart Template
Use this template to perform a Pareto analysis of your data to determine the frequency of problems or defects occurring in a process. The template provides a typical Pareto diagram, with a bar chart representing whatever issues you want to analyze, and a line graph showing the cumulative percentage of occurrences.
Download Pareto Chart Template - Excel
Tree Diagram Template
A tree diagram breaks down a central concept, issue, or activity into increasingly smaller components. In Six Sigma, tree diagrams are used for determining root causes, brainstorming ideas related to a central topic, understanding a process from top to bottom, and approaching issues systematically. This is a useful tool for teams at many levels.
Download Tree Diagram Template - Excel
8D Report Template
This template guides you through the 8D (eight disciplines) approach to problem solving and process improvement. The 8D report includes separate sections for each step, from describing the problem and root causes to identifying corrective actions and ways to prevent reoccurrence. This is a systematic way to help organizations attain their Lean Six Sigma goals.
Download 8D Report Template - Excel
Six Sigma Process Map Template
Create a process flow diagram using flowchart symbols to show each step in a Six Sigma process. This provides a visual representation of process flow with a map that is easy to understand and modify. As a Six SIgma tool, you can use this template for analyzing and revising a process, and as a communication tool for stakeholders.
Download Six Sigma Process Map Template - Excel
Check Sheet with Histogram Template
This template combines a weekly check sheet with a histogram for a graphical representation of defects or issues occurring over time. Enter your data on the check sheet, and the template will automatically create the histogram for your analysis. You can also print the check sheet to collect data by hand.
Download Check Sheet with Histogram Template - Excel
Force Field Analysis Template
A force field analysis helps determine what factors are driving or inhibiting efforts to reach a goal. Identifying these forces and rating the strength of each can provide insight on how to maximize the driving forces and reduce inhibiting forces. On the template, list the desired change along with acting forces, then use your analysis to create an action plan.
Download Force Field Analysis Template
Word | PDF
How Lean and Six Sigma Work Together
While both Lean and Six Sigma aim to reduce waste, they are distinct methodologies. Six Sigma focuses on reducing defects by limiting variation within a process, while Lean removes unnecessary steps for a more efficient process. Combining these two methodologies can improve business performance by emphasizing both quality improvement and profitability. Learn more about Lean Six Sigma by reading Everything You Need to Know About Lean Six Sigma . The acronym “DMAIC” represents a key aspect of Lean Six Sigma. DMAIC stands for the five phases of an improvement cycle: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control. You can use these steps as a roadmap for resolving issues with a Six Sigma approach:
- Define the project goals or problem to be addressed, internal and external customer requirements, and project boundaries.
- Measure the current performance of the process and describe the process in quantifiable terms.
- Analyze the process and identify the root causes of defects and sources of variation.
- Improve performance by resolving the root causes of issues and eliminating defects.
- Control future process performance by maintaining improvements.
Another version of this process is DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify). The DMADV framework is typically applied to new products or services, rather than improving an existing process, or when an existing process has been improved but is not meeting a Six Sigma level. The process is similar to DMAIC but focuses on product or process design and how to implement that design effectively.
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What is an A3?
On a literal level, A3 refers to a ledger size (11×17) piece of paper. But in the Lean Six Sigma world, it is a tool to help see the thinking behind the problem-solving. Don’t mistake A3s as a document to be completed after the problem is solved. It’s important to use the A3 while working through the problem.
The practice of using A3s forces project teams to focus their efforts. At the same time, A3s make it easier for a leader or coach to review a problem solver’s work. A3s become valuable coaching tools since leaders can see and provide feedback on the problem solver’s thought process.
To get in-depth foundational training on how to complete Lean Six Sigma projects using the A3, check out our Green Belt Training & Certification !
A3 Report Templates
Identify and resolve complex business process issues A3 Report App for problem solving and continuous improvement
A3 Report Template
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This A3 report template can be used to identify, analyse, and resolve complex problems in a business setting. It is typically used by managers and supervisors who are looking to eradicate issues, inefficiencies, and ambiguities in business operations in order to maximize productivity. With the SafetyCulture (iAuditor) mobile app and software, you can:
Customize A3 and other data collection templates to gather information for data analysis Capture photos and annotate them as evidence and documentation Automatically organize and retrieve reports saved in secure cloud storage
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Updated 31 Jan 2023 , Published 29 Jul 2019
What is an A3 Report?
An A3 report or A3 Model is a problem-solving method typically used by managers and supervisors to identify, understand, and resolve problems in a business setting. Having evolved from the Toyota Production System’s (TPS) lean management philosophy, it is now commonly used by various industries looking to improve their operational quality and efficiency.
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The PDCA (plan-do-check-act or plan-do-check-adjust) is a management method utilized within the A3 Model. It is a scientific method that aims to:
- Establish the desired result and propose a solution to achieve it (plan)
- Test the proposed solution and gather data regarding its effectiveness (do)
- Analyze the data gathered from the test and compare results to the desired outcome (check)
- Make adjustments to the solution based on the data from the “do” and “check” phases until the goal is achieved (act or adjust)
In this article
Top 3 reasons to use a3 reports, when not to use an a3 report, technology to assist in a3 reporting, the best a3 report templates.
Despite the abundance of problem-solving models ( 8D , 5 Whys , CAPA , etc), there are still compelling reasons for businesses to make A3 lean reports an integral part of their organization. Failing to do an A3 report where it is warranted could result in project blowouts, productivity loss, and process inefficiency.
It is a versatile problem-solving tool
A successful business is one that constantly strives to operate at maximum capacity. A3 reporting helps achieve this ideal by identifying issues, inefficiencies, and ambiguities in the business process, then coming up with possible solutions. Through careful analysis, collaboration, and critical thinking, the A3 model can adapt to almost any type of business or industry.
To establish a culture of continuous improvement
Integrating the PDCA Method into their operational framework helps businesses adapt to any challenges that could negatively affect their operations, e.g., new trends, competition, or a shift in the economic landscape.
To communicate across functions and keep stakeholders informed of issues/problems
Though not primarily designed to be a communication tool, an A3 Report can be used to inform different functions as well as stakeholders regarding operational issues and plans to resolve them. It’s especially effective since its one-page format includes only the most relevant details of the matter.
Aside from functioning as a problem-solving and reporting tool, the A3 model can also be used for business proposals and business planning.
A3 reports are flexible and effective in the hands of a capable team. However, some issues aren’t complex enough to necessitate an A3 or may be addressed better with alternative problem-solving models.
If a problem can easily be fixed with a simple, obvious solution
Using an A3 Report on something as simple as tightening a loose screw or updating an erroneous entry on a spreadsheet is unnecessary. A3 Reports should be reserved for complex issues that require careful analysis, critical thinking, and a team to resolve.
If the problem and proposed solutions are too complex to fit in one-page
A problem’s scale and its impact must be properly evaluated before a team decides to use A3 to solve it. In such instances where A3 will not suffice, other, more thorough problem-solving models such as 8D may be the better option.
The effectiveness of the A3 model relies heavily on the successful analysis and interpretation of data. Using a versatile data collection, analysis, and template-building app like SafetyCulture can help businesses reap the benefits of A3 reporting.
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- After completing the A3 report template, you can immediately generate a report to be shared with colleagues and stakeholders!
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- Export your A3 report in a variety of formats including PDF, DOC, and CSV.
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8D Report Template
An 8D report template is used to document a comprehensive root-cause analysis based on the 8 Disciplines of Problem-Solving popularized by the Ford Motor Company. 8D Teams can use this template to generate their 8D report after completion.
5 Whys Template
Use this 5 whys template to resolve the root cause of a problem so that your business teams can avoid encountering them again. Begin by clearly stating the problem and answer why the problem occurred until the root cause is discovered. To complete the 5 whys template, provide a solution to the root cause of the problem and create actions.
Root-cause Analysis Template
Use this root-cause analysis template to analyze a recurring problem and help eliminate the root causes. Begin by describing the issue and its impact. Next, list potential reasons why the issue happened and identify the root cause and take/attach photo evidence for verification. Provide a prevention strategy and recommend solutions before completing the RCA template with digital signatures.
CAPA Report Template
A CAPA Report form is designed to help identify, address, and prevent the occurence of regulatory and organizational non-conformance. This can be used by compliance officers when formulating a corrective action to resolve the issue, and a preventive action to lower the risk of its recurrence.
A kaizen report template is used by kaizen implementers to present changes in job tasks or processes after continuous improvement efforts. This kaizen report template has been designed to make it easier for employees and management to identify any of the 8 wastes and eliminate them for increased morale, productivity, and competitiveness.
An FMEA template aims to identify potential problems in a process, product or design and prevent their adverse effects on customers. Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of corrective actions with the use of this template.
A PPAP checklist is used by quality managers to comply with all customer specifications, manufacture conforming parts, and ship them as scheduled. This comprehensive PPAP checklist includes detailed questions for each of the 18 production part approval process guidelines—from design records to part submission warrant.
A DMAIC template is used by Six Sigma practitioners to perform the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology as a root-cause analysis to help identify process improvements.
A3 Deficiency Checklist
This A3 deficiency checklist is ideal for the construction and engineering industry to regularly check and continually improve the weaknesses found on their site. These deficiencies, if not properly addressed—can cause a negative impact on the safety of workers and the overall health of the site. As an A3 management process template, it enables site inspectors to examine specific spots and determine if there’s a need for change in the general procedure being followed. Additionally, this checklist can be used to inspect the following areas for deficiencies:
- Radio-Frequency (RF) engineering
- Communications, Navigation, and Identification (CNI)
- Housekeeping Items
PDCA Template Checklist
This PDCA template can function as an A3 management process template and is applicable across industries and in various sectors. It contains a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a comprehensive problem-identification and problem-solving process, similar with how straightforward A3 reports are. This template also allows users to include additional notes they deem necessary for the successful completion of the technique.
SafetyCulture Content Specialist
Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.
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Use this root-cause analysis template to analyze a recurring problem and help eliminate the root causes. Begin by describing the…
A CAPA Report form is designed to help identify, address, and prevent the occurence of regulatory and organizational non-conformance. This…
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An A3 Report is a Toyota-pioneered practice of getting the problem, the analysis, the corrective actions, and the action plan down on a single sheet of large (A3) paper, often with the use of graphics. At Toyota, A3 reports have evolved into a standard method for summarizing problem-solving exercises, status reports, and planning exercises like value-stream mapping.
But it is much more than a sheet a paper with facts and figures. It is a management process learned through dialogue about concrete problems. It does this by means of a dialogue between a lean manager and a subordinate who learns lean management and leadership as she solves an important problem.
This process of solving problems while creating better employees—A3 analysis—is core to the Toyota management system. An A3 report guides the dialogue and analysis. It identifies the current situation, the nature of the issue, the range of possible counter- measures, the best countermeasure, the means (who will do what when) to put it into practice, and the evidence that the issue has actually been addressed.
The lean leader’s job is to develop people. If the worker hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught. Training Within Industry Report (Washington, DC: War Manpower Commission, Bureau of Training, 1945).
Effective use of the A3 process can facilitate the shift from a debate about who owns what (an authority-focused debate) to a dialogue around what is the right thing to do (a responsibility-focused conversation). This shift has a radical impact on the way decisions are made. Individuals earn the authority to take action through the manner in which they frame the issue. They form consensus and get decisions made by focusing relentlessly on indisputable facts that they and their peers derive from the gemba.
As a result, A3 management can best be understood as neither “top-down” nor “bottom-up.” The process clarifies responsibility by placing ownership squarely on the shoulders of the author-owner of the A3, the individual whose initials appear in the upper right-hand corner of the paper. This person may not have direct authority over every aspect of the proposal. Yet this owner is clearly identified as the person who has taken or accepted responsibility to get decisions made and implemented .
The Many Facets of A3
- A standard paper size: At its most fundamental, “A3” is the international term for a sheet of paper 297 millimeters wide and 420 millimeters long. The closest U.S. paper size is the 11-by-17-inch tabloid sheet.
- A template: Many companies and individuals use an A3-sized document pre-printed with the steps needed to conduct lean problem-solving or improvement efforts, with generous white space for “A3 owners” to record their progress. While they refer to this document as a template, an “A3” is not a template.
- A storyboard: As users record their problem-solving or improvement project’s progress, the A3 becomes a storyboard used to facilitate communication, collaboration, and coordination with other stakeholders affected by the goal the A3 owner is working toward (e.g., solving a problem or improving a process ). By having all the facts about the effort in one place, logically presented and summarized, the A3 owner is better able to gain buy-in from other stakeholders for recommended process changes.
- A report: Once the A3 problem-solving effort concludes, the A3 storyboard serves as a report of the problem-solving or improvement initiative, including the facts and data gathered, hypotheses considered, countermeasures tried, experiment results, corrective actions taken, and the overall thinking of the A3 owner and stakeholders. At Toyota and elsewhere, A3 reports have evolved into a standard method for summarizing problem-solving exercises, status reports, and planning exercises like value-stream mapping.
- A problem-solving methodology (or process): Most lean practitioners know “the A3” as a problem-solving process guided by specific steps or questions. The left side of the A3 focuses on various elements of the problem or current condition, and the right on the countermeasures considered, tested, and chosen that resolves the issue or creates a higher standard.
- A management discipline (or process): At a higher level, lean leaders, managers, and supervisors use “the A3” as a means by which they oversee and guide subordinates while simultaneously helping them develop their lean thinking and practice — particularly lean leadership and problem-solving — capabilities. With A3 management, leaders challenge their direct reports to solve a problem. Then, with the A3 report guiding the dialogue and analysis, leaders coach them through the problem-solving process. Importantly, leaders coach by asking questions versus providing answers, ensuring responsibility remains with the subordinate to solve the problem by pursuing facts and building consensus. Through this interaction, subordinates address the issue, allowing them to make progress toward the objective and, in so doing, learn the lean approach to leadership and management and gain problem-solving capability.
- A3 thinking (or analysis): Most A3 coaches and advanced lean practitioners refer to “the A3” as a thinking process. In this case, the term refers to a systematic approach to resolving problems or improving work processes. Someone can follow this systematic approach, regardless of whether they are guided by or record their findings on an A3 document.
- An alignment tool: Advanced lean organizations that have incorporated lean thinking and practices throughout their operations use “A3s” as part of their strategy deployment and execution efforts. In this case, the A3 process ensures a standard approach to managing and coaching people, all directed toward solving problems that help achieve corporate objectives.
How Do I Start My A3?
When asked “where do I start to write my A3,” David Verble responds “don’t start by writing.” His piece, the first in a series about getting started, offers lessons he has learned about the nature of thinking, and a productive way to start the A3 by recognzing it as a thinking process.
Don’t Present Your A3: Share Your A3
When asked “where do I start to write my A3,” David Verble responds “don’t start by writing.” His piece, the first in a series about getting started, offers lessons he has learned about the nature of thinking, and a productive way to start by recognizing it as a thinking process.
Related Online Courses
Intro to Problem Solving
Problem-solving is critical to every position in every industry. In this course, you will learn to grasp the situation at the gemba (where the work is done) and use all of your senses to understand what is truly happening.
See: Value Stream Mapping
Forms and Templates Downloads for A3 problem solving, standard work, project management, and value stream mapping. Problem Solving Templates A3 Action Plan Form (from Getting the Right Things Done) The action plan template helps define the who, what, when, where, and how of a plan on one page.
A3 thinking is a logical and structured approach to problem solving adopted by Lean organizations around the world. It can be used for most kinds of problems and in any part of the business. This A3 template uses a four stages model that is based on the PDCA management philosophy.
An A3 is a one-page report prepared on a single 11 x 17 sheet of paper that adheres to the discipline of PDCA thinking as applied to collaborative problem solving, strategy development or reporting. The A3 includes the background, problem statement, analysis, proposed actions, and the expected results. The History
The A3 report condenses project information onto a single page in an easy-to-read, graphical format. This A3 template provides sections for describing background information, current conditions, root cause analysis, target conditions, implementation plan, and follow-up. Download A3 Template - Excel
The practice of using A3s forces project teams to focus their efforts. At the same time, A3s make it easier for a leader or coach to review a problem solver’s work. A3s become valuable coaching tools since leaders can see and provide feedback on …
Top A3 Report Templates: 1) A3 Report Template; 2) 8D Report Template 3) 5 Whys Template; 4) Root-Cause Analysis Template; 5) CAPA Report Template; 6) Kaizen Template; 7) FMEA Template; 8) PPAP Template; 9) DMAIC Template; 10) A3 Report App to help you resolve business process issues
A template: Many companies and individuals use an A3-sized document pre-printed with the steps needed to conduct lean problem-solving or improvement efforts, with generous white space for “A3 owners” to record their progress. While they refer to this document as a template, an “A3” is not a template.