The truth of an A3 ... really
There is a lot of Hysteria within the Lean Community about A3 thinking well I am here to
shatter the myth. There is absolutely no need to sign up and spend cash to attend an A3
An A3 is simply a summary document whether for a Problem Resolution or Project
Update. Simply an A3 is the size of paper used which is 17 inches by 11 inches and when folded in half becomes 8.5 inches by 11 inches. This size is comfortable to carry inside operations and is an easy size to write on within the workplace but large enough to contain all of the necessary information.
Many contest that A3 is a problem solving methodology … sorry it is not! When using an
A3 you will still need to embed a kernel of a problem solving methodology. It can be a
simple 5 Why, Fish Bone Diagram or more sophisticated tools like Shainin or 6 Sigma. So
in essence an A3 is a viable communication tool no matter what kind of Problem Solving
methodology your organization chooses to embrace.
So once again within the Lean Methodologies what appears to be a simple result can still
require complex preparation, complex thinking and deep analysis.
But a properly designed A3 template does force the user to use a rational and structured
methodology for thinking and presentation … typically in this format …
Now let us look closer at defining the inner workings of an A3
is important to understand as to why an A3 was invoked it also helps to begin to
frame the specification of your Problem.
DEFINE THE PROBLEM
… This is critical, you do not build a house without a drawing and before
you can begin to solve a problem you need to place specifications around the situation so you do not chase ghosts. At minimum we need to know WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and EXTENT. At the conclusion you should be able to create a Problem Statement that contains only one object and one deviation.
… show your detective work which can be the results of any problem solving
methodology. It demonstrates to the reader your rational approach even if your solution is based on job skill and experience.
… what you plan to do including mile stones. This can also be a portrait of you
intended Design of Experiments (DOE)
…. As important has have a great Problem Statement is defining how you are going to
measure the results of your activity. The KPI defined needs to be measurable and something that can be sustained to insure that you have permanently solved the problem or in essence resolved a variation contained within your process.
… Most definitely as you do your analysis and work your action plan you will
find additional opportunities. However if you pause and rectify you new found opportunities the core essence of what you are attempting to solve will be dragged out or the team will lose focus if your KPI is not showing improvement. To avoid this kind of scope creep identify your additional opportunities as future actions which will most likely become a future A3
Finally, we typically like to advise organizations that the life of an A3 should be no longer than 4 weeks.
Now some people seem to resonate more with one approach than another but below is a simple comparison of several models.