At Toyota, there exists a way to solve problems that generates knowledge and helps people doing the work learn how to learn.
Company managers use a tool called the A3 (named after the international paper size on which it fits) as a key tactic in sharing a deeper method of thinking that lies at the heart of Toyota’s sustained success. An A3 is composed of a sequence of boxes (seven in the example) arrayed in a template.
Like many A3 authors, Porter’s first effort reveals his need to show he has an answer — the answer.
He jumps to a conclusion and develops a strong emotional attachment to it without having traced a more rigorous analysis of the situation through seeing and confirming the actual situation.
In this case, the A3 is divided into a few simple sections. Background of the improvement goal – what are we trying to fix? Analysis – what is the gap between where we are today and where we want to be 5.
Countermeasures or solutions – what are possible solutions (not just one) and barriers to successful implementation 6.
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 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.