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One Page Problem Solving Sheet

Eda Yilmaz

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This one page problem solving sheet presentation is a tool to handle, track and manage the problems and stakeholders, in a systematic way.


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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)

A3 Action Plan Form (from Getting the Right Things Done)

A3 Status Review Form

A3 Status Review Form (from Getting the Right Things Done)

one page problem solving sheet

A3 Strategy Form (from Getting the Right Things Done)

Detailed A3 Template (from Managing to Learn)

Detailed A3 Template (from Managing to Learn)

PDSA A3 Template (from On the Mend)

PDSA A3 Template (from On the Mend)

Problem Definition Worksheet

Problem Definition Worksheet

Root Cause Template

Root Cause Template

Four Types of Problems Book

Four Types of Problems

Art Smalley

Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process

Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process

Perfecting Patient Journeys

Perfecting Patient Journeys

Beau Keyte , Tom Shuker and Judy Worth

Getting the right Things Done

Getting the Right Things Done

Pascal Dennis

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Standard Work Process Study Sheet

Standard Work Process Study Sheet

Standard Work Production Analysis Board

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Standard Work Skills Training Matrix

Standard Work Skills Training Matrix

Standardized Work Chart

Standardized Work Chart

Standardized Work Combination Table

Standardized Work Combination Table

one page problem solving sheet

Standardized Work Job Instruction Sheet

Waste Walk Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Standardized Work Process Capacity Sheet

Waste Walk Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Waste Walk Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Kaizen Express

Kaizen Express

Toshiko Narusawa and John Shook

Lean Lexicon 5th Edition

Lean Lexicon 5th Edition

Lean Enterprise Institute

Training Within Industry (TWI) Templates and Downloads

8-Step TWI Problem Solving Card

8-step TWI problem solving card - as presented by IBM

Solving Problems with TWI

Solving Problems with TWI

Template of Job Breakdown Sheet

Template of Job Breakdown Sheet

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TWI Job Instruction Card

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TWI Job Relations Card

Lean Solutions

Lean Solutions

James (Jim) Womack, PhD and Dan Jones

Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking, 2nd Edition

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Master Schedule Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Master Schedule and Action Plan Template for One Goal (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

End of Project Review Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

End of Project Review Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Master Schedule Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Team Board Form (from Getting the Right Things Done)

Team Board Form (from Getting the Right Things Done)

Value Proposition Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Value Proposition Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

one page problem solving sheet

Action Planning Template (from Perfecting Patient Journeys)

Value-Stream Mapping Templates

Value-stream Mapping Icons for Excel

Value-stream Mapping Icons for Excel

Learning to See

Learning to See

Mike Rother and John Shook

Getting Started kit

VSM Getting Started Set

Lean Enterprise Institute , Mike Rother and John Shook


Mapping to See: Value-Stream Improvement Workshop

Beau Keyte , Jim Luckman , Kirk Paluska , Guy Parsons , John Shook , Tom Shuker and David Verble

Improvement Kata / Coaching Kata

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Improvement Kata Learner's Storyboard

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one page problem solving sheet


The solutions that will add value on your lean journey!

One Page Problem Solving Sheet (A3 & 8D thinking)

one page problem solving sheet

At the beginning of the lean journey, organizations cope with many problems and many pilot projects simultaneously. This can cause a chaos if not managed appropriately.

In order to avoid that, organizations need to standardize and systemize the problem handling approaches, need  to review the projects and problems frequently and rapidly with the stakeholders and managers to take their view and approvals, need to review the previous projects to take the lessons learnt and need to give the decisions through taking everything into consideration (instead of jumping to the conclusion at the beginning with the guts feelings).

For this purpose, organizations start using a simple one page problem solving sheet (Also known as A3 report introduced by Toyota or 8D report used by quality departments). This one page sheet is a tool to handle, track and manage the problems and stakeholders in asystematic way. It is used as a means for problem solving, for communication, for archiving and yearly reviewing the achievements, for decision making and for presentation. There is no, one fits all form but most of the A3’s include basic headlines like the one shared at One Page Problem Solving Sheet.

one page problem solving sheet

This tool will give the best results if it is supported and back upped with coaching sessions with the manager or the other assigned coach(as it is carried out in 6 sigma projects).

one page problem solving sheet

Managers need to check and coach both the project and the leaders by asking the right questions(like: if the target is linked to the strategic direction or not, if the project team consists the essential stakeholders, if the VOC(voice of customer) is taken, if the approval is taken from the other team members’ managers, if the responsibilities are clear and documented, if the costs and benefit analysis done and etc.).

Beside the technical questions coach is also expected to share experience from former problems and projects and provide the tricks about it and also give the word to the leader for feedbacks and inputs(Two-way communication).

The more this coaching takes place the more people internalize continuous improvement and subsequently this format will become a way of thinking.

This is also called coaching and improvement KATA in the literature(Japanese term for behavior pattern). There is a handbook available at the Toyota Kata Website  on this subject, where you can find the details.

Last but not least, all efforts of the team needs to be appreciated and recognized at the front of the other employees by the management at the management presentation. Consequently, the others will be encouraged to take a part in continuous improvement with a project like that.

If you would like to see how this sheet is filled and used, please click

<http://www.slideshare.net/edayilmaz/one-page-problem-solving-sheet>  .

It is downloadable, so you can save and make any changes you like

Eda YILMAZ Bsc. International Trade Supply Chain Professional Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Senior Business & Operational Excellence Management Consultant


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12 comments on “ one page problem solving sheet (a3 & 8d thinking) ”.

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The key to effective problem solving is to first develop a system that exposes the real opportunities that are hindering performance. Such a system will trigger teams to effectively apply a structured A3 problem solving approach on the right problems at the right level. Effective problem solving should be viewed as an output of a broader business operating system and not used in isolation.

Once problems are pulled from an effective operating system (such as a Performance Hub), then we can almost error proof the likelihood of organizations tying to solve an unmanageable stack of problems, or focusing on the wrong things.

Like Liked by 1 person

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Thank you for this valuable input, it is a very key point! A3 thinking must be used as a support tool for Hoshin planning(Strategy deployment). Companies should focus on problems which have the highest effect and link on strategic direction, by this way they will use their limited resources efficently on the right subjects. Sincerely, GLS/Eda Yılmaz

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how do I get a soft cop of this?

Could you please send an email to [email protected] . I will send ppt format to your email Sincerely GLS/Eda Yılmaz

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If you need more examples please let me know. I use A3’s, 8D and PPS daily so have many examples

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I just sent the copies to the ones who demanded from the yahoo adress. I hope you receieved it and it will be useful 🙂 GLS/Eda Yılmaz

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can you send the soft copy this Email to : [email protected]

Just did it, please check 🙂 Sincerely GLS/Eda Yılmaz

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Dear Eda, I’m very interested on a ppt presentation concerning use of A3 Problem Solving sheet. Could you send it to [email protected] ? Many thanks

Dear Alberto No problem but it will take time, these days pass with some rush 🙂 Happy new year! Eda

Hello all, I uploaded a presentation to my new post “How to Use One Page Problem Solving Sheet” Happy 2013! Eda

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Problem Solving on a Single Sheet of Paper

Excerpt from “Lead With Respect: A Novel of Lean Practice” by Freddy Ballé and Michael Ballé (Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.: August 2014).

one page problem solving sheet

In the following scene from “Lead With Respect,” a business novel about why developing people’s abilities as problem solvers is the ultimate sign of workplace respect and a decisive business advantage, Jane Delaney, CEO of struggling software company Southcape, is angry.

She is talking to Mike Wembly, the company’s chief technologist, who is about to hold the first session of what he is calling “Southcape University,” his new internal training effort focused on building problem-solving skills. This is the first time Delaney is hearing about it from Wembly. In what follows, Wembly gives an impromptu preview of the training to the boss…

By the time they reached the office, Jane couldn’t contain herself any longer.

“Look, Mike, you know how I hate surprises. Let’s go to my office and preview what you’ve cooked up for Friday.”

She was surprised to hear that he’d looked up lean management and problem solving and discovered a full methodology. He then made the astonishing step of going to a training session—himself, Mike, the famous pundit and knower of all things.

“It’s a method of problem solving called an A3,” he explained excitedly. “The idea is that a full problem-solving story should fit onto an A3 piece of paper.”

“A3, as in the paper size?” Jane asked.

“Yes, the paper you find in the copy machine. It’s the largest piece of paper we have around the office.” He rummaged around her office as if it were his own, found a large sheet of paper with writing on the front, turned it over, and began sketching on the back.

“First, clarify the problem. You need to visualize the gap between what’s actually happening and the ideal situation. The idea is to find the measure that best represents the problem, and show historically and graphically where you are and where you want to be. If we can’t do that, we don’t understand the problem well enough to solve it.

“Second, break down the problem. This is about drawing out the process generating the situation we’re looking at, identifying exactly where things go wrong, and listing potential factors. You’re supposed to test every factor to confirm which one has the greatest impact on the problem.

“Third, set a target. Once you’ve figured out the factor having the biggest impact on performance, you can set a performance target, aim for total eradication of this factor, and guesstimate what impact it would have on the indicator. This also gives you a due date.

“Fourth, seek root cause. Why is the main factor occurring? You ask why repeatedly until you find a cause that is so large that it’s outside your immediate action range. The idea is to find the most fundamental thing that we can affect rapidly, and focus on it.

“Fifth, develop a number of countermeasures. If you can only come up with one solution, you haven’t understood the problem fully—or you’re jumping to the one solution you’re comfortable with, which may be second best. You need to force yourself to explore different routes to address the root cause and then pick the one that’s going to follow through on the basis of impact and cost.

“Six, follow through. Plan the implementation of your countermeasures and make sure all happens on plan. If something gets off track, you need to see this early and ask why? Maybe you’ve missed something, or maybe the commitment to solve the problem is lagging.

“Seven, check the results and the process. Are you getting the expected results? Have you done what you planned to do? I guess that’s what you’d call confirmation.

 “Eight, adjust or standardize. How do you make sure these results will hold? What else do you need to fix to make sure the new process will be sustained? What issues remain open? And does what you’ve learned apply elsewhere?

“And it all fits on an A3 sheet of paper, to formalize learning and communicate it easily.”

The A3 Problem Solving Sheet

one page problem solving sheet

“On one single sheet? How does that help?” Jane asked.

“That’s the brilliance of it!” he laughed, having his fun. “It’s a great communication tool. Look on top here, besides the title, we have several boxes,” he explained as he drew. “They’re for sign-offs by the A3 author and coach, and the date. The point of these A3 sheets is not the problem-solving structure, it’s the fact that the sheet supports a structured problem-solving conversation between two people.”

“Say I coach you—heaven forbid—on how to use the cloud to store your personal data.”

She raised an eyebrow and gave him her best forbidding stare.

“First, we would have to agree on a problem title, which is far harder than you’d think. Then we have to agree on the problem definition—what is the gap to standard? This means agreeing on what is the standard, ideal, etc., what is the current situation, and how we’re going to measure this. No mean thing!

“Then, we have to agree on what are the most influential factors, how we tested each of them, and how we’ve confirmed our hunches.

Then we have to agree on a meaningful target. Too low and there’s no challenge to look for breakthrough ideas; too high and it’s unrealistic.

Then we have to agree on what we consider the root cause.

“Then we have to agree on what alternative actions we can think up, and which one we’ll choose to have a go at. Then we have to put a plan together and get it done. Then we have to agree on what impact our efforts have had and what effects we can see. Then we have to agree on what conclusions to draw from the entire exercise.

“It may sound formal, and perhaps mechanical, until you try it and discover the intuitive aspect and power of the process. I see it as a great platform for innovation—a way to develop basic skills that enable the individuals to learn and develop mastery—like a musician doing scales and exercises. The beauty of the A3 is that while an author is using it to explore and learn on their own, as the coach, I can steer them through the process, challenge their assumptions, and open up unseen options.”

“It does sound impressive,” Jane agreed cautiously.

“The elegance of it is that this one-page document should read as a simple story that can be shared more widely with other stakeholders to see whether they agree on the thinking, or whether we’re missing something big.”

“And you’ve completed some of these A3s?”

“The proof is in the pudding. Daniela Webb is presenting hers tomorrow, we’ll see how that goes.”

Excerpt from “Lead With Respect: A Novel of Lean Practice” by Freddy Ballé and Michael Ballé (Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.: August 2014). For more information, visit http://www.lean.org/Bookstore/ProductDetails.cfm?SelectedProductId=386 or c ontact LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at [email protected] or (m) 203.470.7377

Michael Ballé, Ph.D., is a business writer, columnist, and executive coach who has studied lean management transformations for the last 20 years. He is associate researcher at Télécom ParisTech’s Projet Lean Enterprise and co-founder of the French Lean Institute. He coaches senior executives in using lean to radically improve their businesses’ performance and establish lean culture. Together, with his father, Freddy Ballé, he also has co-authored the business novels, “The Gold Mine” and “The Lean Manager.”

Freddy Ballé started visiting Toyota plants in Japan in the mid-1970s while head of product planning and later manufacturing engineering at Renault, where he worked for 30 years. Upon leaving Renault, he pioneered the full lean system implementation at Valeo as Technical vice president, then at Sommer-Allibert as CEO, and later at Faurecia as Technical vice president.



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What is A3 Problem Solving?

A3 Problem Solving

A3 problem solving is a Lean approach to reporting issues and presenting ways of addressing them. The simple method, developed by Toyota, bases on documenting a problem, together with its current outcome and a suggested change, on a single sheet of A3 paper (420x297mm), giving it the name. You can use it to make a process change proposal, report on project status, or solve a problem.

A3 takes from the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle . Though it appears to be a step-by-step process, the method tends to be used iteratively, with the problem and solution sections being cyclically updated.

Taiichi Ōno of Toyota was known for not appreciating reports longer than one page, which helped the proliferation of the A3 approach within the automotive giant’s offices. A3 is similar to the 8D report also widespread in the automotive industry, though typically for complaints management. Furthermore, the ability to quickly discern a problem and understand its solution is innate to Lean values.

Lean emphasizes visualization, with examples in value stream mapping and Kanban’s visual workflows. That made a single-page report presenting what is going on was a welcome addition to a Lean operation.

Through shared use of A3s to solve all problems and plan initiatives, companies can start to operate an A3 system thinking methodology: address difficulties, suggest change, innovate, and curate logical reasoning rooted in the current needs.

Why use the A3 approach to solving problems?

Lean provides a competitive advantage, strategic and operational benefits through its objective to increase the value delivered to the customer and to reduce waste. Engaging in a process that allows the team to find the correct, best solution in the shortest possible time is highly beneficial.

Understandably, some reports and proposals must contain extensive amounts of data, and they have their place in a business environment. But imagine the value and advantage that distilling this information to 1 page has. Consider how much faster decisions can be made based on that. Besides the time savings, the opportunity to use the systematic approach of PDCA supplements the problem-solving skills required to propose accurate solutions.

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. Dwight Eisenhower

It’s the act of planning that is important, as it spells out all known obstacles, visualizes the action plan, and helps to foresee potential outcomes and issues along the way. While documenting your problem on an A3 piece of paper may or may not yield benefits, the act of implementing A3 thinking is what makes the difference.

The benefits of using A3 thinking are:

How to create an A3 report?

A3 Report template

Step 1: The title

It should focus on the problem you are trying to solve and not the solution you want to convey. Examples of titles are: “Decrease Team Misunderstanding of Task Instructions” or “Reduce Customer Complaints with Product XYZ” .

Step 2: Background

According to the authors of “Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota’s PDCA Management System” , one of the main strengths of Toyota is that they place importance on understanding a problem. Rather than rush onto a solution, Toyota takes the time to precisely understand what is going on. The principle of going on a Gemba walk attests to this need to perceive problems first-hand.

The report’s background section conveys important related facts and how the problem aligns with the company’s strategic objectives. Presenting this right there on the page helps minimize the cost that a board of highly paid executives would need to spend looking at a problem, without a guarantee of them understanding it, nor coming up with the right solution. Consider this checklist for your background section:

Step 3: Current condition

A correct definition and a good understanding of the problem is your path to finding the right solution. That makes working on defining the current condition 90 % of the A3 effort.

The objective here is to make sure everyone is aware of the problem, whether the report documents it appropriately, and whether anyone questions the report’s findings. The use of graphs, charts, or other visual aids is beneficial.

Step 4: Goal

Your target - if you hit it, you know that your problem-solving effort has been a success. But you need to know what metrics will measure success and what the definition of success is. An example could be “reducing customer complaints by 15%, as measured by call center statistics” .

Step 5: The root cause

The focus of the root cause section should be to differentiate between facts and opinions regarding a problem’s cause and effect. You can include your findings from 5 Whys exercises , an Ishikawa diagram , or any other result of your RCA efforts . If the root cause is not defined correctly, the problem will likely resurface, causing waste and negating the Lean principles.

Step 6: Countermeasures

The countermeasures should be the corrective actions to take for the root cause of the problem to be resolved. If not possible - without a process overhaul - you can use containment actions instead to stop the issue from directly impacting the customer. It is OK to address complex problems iteratively, along with the values of continuous improvement .

The section may include a table of the problem causes, actions taken, action owners, and the achieved results.

Step 7: Effect confirmation

Since the A3 exercise bases on the PDCA cycle, this section of your report should show the effort you expended to confirm your findings. The proof that you have indeed solved the problem. For example, software engineers include samples that replicate the bugs and verify they are no longer present after a fix.

If the exercise has not taken place yet, i.e., when you’re presenting a plan to gain approval, you should outline what exercises you will conduct to check if the aim is successful.

Step 8: Follow up actions

The final section should include any other actions that you might want to consider. A principle worth adhering to here is the “Shitsuke - sustain” step of the 5S plan . Consider what you should do to ensure the benefits of this exercise are maintained. And could they possibly be translated to other areas of the company?

An A3 problem-solving report will help you deliver information in a way that provides instant value and can quickly reduce waste.

The most important thing to remember is that the act of Lean problem solving is more important than creating an A3 document that may contain no valid data and be simply a tick on some corporate checklist.

The same is true of all Lean methods and tools - their application alone will not make your company Lean. To truly implement Lean principles, your company culture, thinking, and planning all have to transform.

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A low-risk, tiny step in attempting a culture change in a company could be getting the teams to collaborate on digital Kanban Tool ® boards. Their WIP limits monitoring and process visualization stand a chance to slowly change people’s way of thinking towards more Lean patterns. Please enter valid URL Subdomain is already taken Please enter valid email address

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A3 Problem Solving

In many organizations, employees are missing out on effective collaboration due to solutions being implemented with haste, departments not being aligned around key details, and projects stalling due to the need for revision.

A3 Problem Solving aims to help teams get ahead of the issues associated with poor planning by providing a systematic approach to solving problems. This process encourages in-depth problem solving designed to ensure that projects meet their intended goals.

Done right, A3 gives organizations a path toward faster, better decision making and more efficient processes, and helps nurture a collaborative culture.

In these next few sections, we’ll define A3 Thinking and go over the key elements involved in this powerful problem-solving tool.

What Is A3 Problem Solving?

A3 Problem Solving, or A3 Thinking, is part tool, part methodology for solving problems in a Lean environment that, like many parts of the School of Lean , was developed as part of the Toyota Production System.

At Toyota, A3 reports were initially used for solving problems, reporting on a project’s status, and proposing policy changes, though it’s worth pointing out that the potential applications cover a much broader range of use cases.

The Definition of A3 Thinking

A3 Thinking is typically defined as a problem-solving, decision-making, and collaborative management tool.

The name “A3” refers to the size of the piece of paper (11 x 17) used to outline goals, ideas, problems, and solutions in the A3 Thinking process. Now, it’s important to note that the size of the paper isn’t really important. Instead, the value comes from the fact that the summary of what’s being reported fits on one sheet of paper. Teams are required to focus on distilling the problem, solution, and the steps in-between into a single A3 page.

When implemented correctly, creating an A3 report allows teams to identify the most critical aspects of a problem or situation using the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process and stay focused on what matters.

A3 Problem Solving Online Video Course

As part of our growing School of Lean library, our A3 Problem Solving course will guide you from the basics to being able to implement A3 Problem Solving techniques within a few days.

Through this course you will learn how to make lasting changes as well as how to decide where to start making improvements.

Watch a Free A3 Introduction Video

A3 problem solving template.

The A3 report is a single-page document that is used to tell a story of how a product or service was improved by the methodical application of each step in the PDCA cycle.

Here’s a breakdown of the five steps we typically include in an A3 report:

You’ll notice we’ve outlined five steps above, though some Lean experts break this process into seven or more steps.

The A3 template isn’t all that important to the A3 Thinking process. The beauty of A3 reporting is that it’s a really flexible process that can be adapted to different situations depending on your needs. The real value comes from the thinking and collaboration that takes place as teams work through each of the four PDCA steps.

Remember: A3 Thinking distills the problem solving process into a one-page story that sets the scene, outlines goals, and works through problem solving. A3s are designed to be flexible. You might use it to focus on improving quality states or eliminating safety incidents or for justifying capital expenditures.

How to Practice A3 Thinking

A3 Problem Solving is a useful tool for identifying and addressing the root cause of a problem, encouraging organization-wide knowledge sharing, and working through a range of decision-making and critical-thinking tasks.

Again, you don’t necessarily need to follow a specific template. Instead, you can adapt the format and steps so that it aligns closely with your organization’s goals and internal processes.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for organizations new to A3 Problem Solving:

For a deeper dive into the A3 process, check out our online course. You can watch the first installment of the series for free to get a sense of what you’ll learn in this training module.

A3 Thinking Podcasts

Our free podcasts provide real world insights into practicing A3 Thinking.

How To Harness The Power of A3 Thinking

How to use a3 thinking.

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one page problem solving sheet

The A3 problem-solving tool is a bright example of how problems should be treated to be eliminated efficiently. Scroll down to learn more about A3 and how to use it.

5 Whys: The Ultimate Root Cause Analysis Tool

Gemba Walk: Where the Real Work Happens

A great part of our daily work routine is actually related to solving problems. Either small or big, problems are an inevitable part of our workday. However, if you decide to act fast and remove a problem as swiftly as possible, you may face the same issue repeatedly.

Instead of fighting only the symptoms, you need to dig deeper and discover the root cause. By doing so, you will be able to protect the work process from recurring problems. This is where the A3 methodology comes into play.

Implementing an A3 problem-solving tool is a bright example of how problems should be treated to be eliminated efficiently. Based on some simple steps and ideas, the model gives directions on dealing with problem-solving issues through simple structuring, good collaboration, and active communication.

What is A3 Thinking?

First of all, let’s briefly touch upon the mindset that A3 thinking aims to develop. It can be summarized in 7 elements:

Origin of the A3 Problem-Solving Tool

The A3 report is one of the many Lean management tools developed as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

There isn’t a single inventor of the A3 reporting method. In fact, Isao Kato (former manager at Toyota) describes it as a hybrid between the PDCA cycle and Toyota’s philosophy to make things visible.

There is also a legend that Taiichi Ohno often refused to read further than the first page of any written report. This is why the A3 is a one-page report.

The name A3 comes from the European A3 paper size corresponding to 11-inches by 17-inches or 29.7cm x 42cm.

A3 thinking played a major role in Toyota’s commercial success. Consequently, it became a widespread tool, now used in various industries.

Let’s explore the A3 problem-solving tool in detail.

Foundations of the A3 model

Actually, A3 is just a single report that will not help you solve problems like a magic wand. It is much more important for all involved parties to be dedicated to the process and communicate actively.

Before you begin with the formation of your own A3 reporting method, you need to be familiar that there are 3 major roles in the process:

The owner is responsible for managing the process and maintaining the document. On the other hand, the owner needs to be advised and supervised by a mentor experienced in problem-solving.

The mentor’s role is to give directions and provoke the problem owner to find the solution, but not to give answers and propositions.

Last but not least, there are responders or stakeholders. They are the third party, which is directly interested in the final results of the A3 project.

Here is the challenge. Usually, there is a wide variety of stakeholders involved. The problem owner needs to have access to all of them if needed.

However, we all know that it is a bit difficult to reach higher management in organizations with a strict hierarchy.

This is why the whole organization should be familiar with the concept of lean thinking and be prepared to assists at any time. Sometimes this is challenging, but it can show how flexible an organization really is.

At the end of the day, the active communication between all parties involved is crucial for the success of any A3 project.

The A3 Report

The A3 report is a single-page document, which reflects the results of the whole process. Usually, it contains seven steps, but it may also have other variations. Below you can find an A3 report example, which most often will include the following steps:

a3 report

Current situation

Set targets/goals, root cause analysis, countermeasures.

The A3 Process

The A3 methodology is a lean thinking process where the problem owner should go through the model's different steps until there is a proper solution to be implemented. The owner needs to communicate actively with his colleagues and the mentor of the project.

Let’s now examine the different steps that comprise the A3 process.

First of all, you need to clarify the problem and briefly describe it. This is a starting point where the owner can add context and support the next steps.

Before a problem can be addressed properly, the problem owner needs to describe the current situation in the area where the issue appears.

At this stage, you can map the different processes that exist around the problem area. It will allow you to see the bigger picture and identify the root cause.

After the current situation is clear, you need to set goals. Keep in mind that at this stage, you need to take into consideration that you don’t have  the full picture .

So after you go through the remaining steps until “effect confirmation,” you can come back to this step and add more details to the initial goals.

This is a significant step from the successful implementation of the A3 process. Trying to fight the problem immediately means that you are only treating the symptoms while leaving the root cause untouched. This way, a problem may appear regularly in bigger proportions.

Therefore, once you have a good understanding of how the processes work and the initial goal, you need to figure out the root cause of the problem. For this purpose, you can use different techniques such as  the 5 whys .

Once you are familiar with the root cause, you may start offering solutions. From here, you can go back to the initial goal and add more details. In all cases, the countermeasures should lead to a clear understanding of how the initial goal will be achieved.

Implementation Plan

After setting the countermeasures, you have to present an implementation plan that includes a list of the actions that will be applied to get the countermeasures in place. It is also helpful to assign responsible individuals for each task and a due date.

Effect confirmation & Follow-up

The last step is crucial for establishing a culture of continuous improvement . It is imperative to measure the actual results and confirm the effect of your countermeasures.

Whether there are positive or negative results, you need to take action.

If the actual results differ from the predicted ones, you should modify the plan, re-implement it, and follow-up.

If there is a positive effect, you should communicate improvements to the rest of the organization and ultimately make them a standard.

Benefits of A3 problem-solving

The A3 model is consistent, and it encourages mentoring and overall collaboration.

Furthermore, it promotes the cross-organizational sharing of information and encourages learning and continuous improvement on every organizational level.

Also, the A3 methodology encourages commitment to common goals and strengthens the levels of responsibility.

Last but not least, you can use an A3 report not only for problem-solving but also for proposing improvements, reporting, coaching, and others.

Try Kanbanize for free

A3 is a useful problem-solving tool that has some significant advantages:


Start your free trial now and get access to all Kanbanize features.

During the 14-day trial period you can invite your team and test the application in a production-like enviroment.

one page problem solving sheet

A3 Problem Solving: What It Is ... and What It Isn't

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:

There is no “magic” in the steps through which the structured A3 Problem Solving template takes a team. These steps are basically:

These steps follow the Deming Plant-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, with steps 1 through 5 being the ”Plan”, Step 6 being the “Do”, Step 7 being the “Check” and Step 8 being the “Act”.

 On the A3 template, the steps are typically laid out like this:

Surprisingly, the steps and the format look very much like templates created by U.S. companies in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ford Motor Company created an 8.5-inch by 11-inch 8D Problem Solving template:

one page problem solving sheet

Johnson Controls Inc. created a Problem Solving Document (PSD) that uses both sides of a form that folds to an 8.5-inch by 11-inch size, but it is larger than tabloid size unfolded.

one page problem solving sheet

If U.S. companies had the templates and knowledge of the problem-solving tools, why aren’t U.S. companies better problem-solvers?

The answer is that when most organizations start their lean implementation , they jump to using the lean tools. However, there are four components of a lean implementation: lean planning, lean concepts , Lean tools and lean culture . All four of these components must be implemented in parallel. The lean tools are ineffective without the support of a developing lean culture.

one page problem solving sheet

The Four Components of Lean

This supporting lean culture is highlighted by how Toyota views problems:

In Toyota, no problem is a problem!

Compare this to how a typical U.S. company associate views problem-solving. We view it as a burden or maybe even a punishment. We get through it so we can check it off our to-do list.

A3 is a structured and very useful problem-solving template. To be successful, this template must be supported by a lean culture that changes how we view problems. Otherwise, A3 Problem Solving will just join the list of “programs of the month”.

Read more on lean manufacturing best practices:

Eight Easy Steps to Creating a Pareto Chart

How to Reduce Manufacturing Waste

Kaizen Events: When and How to Use Them

About the author: Larry Rubrich is the president of WCM Associates LLC. For more information, visit www.wcmfg.com  or call 260-637-8064.

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Larry Rubrich is the president of WCM Associates LLC. For more information, visit www.wcmfg.com or call 260-637-8064.

one page problem solving sheet

Continuous Improvement Toolkit

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A3 Problem Solving Template

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)

Related Templates

Gemba Walk Template

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