Understanding A3 Thinking

Report
The A3 Process and A3 Thinking
The source for much of this is material is from:
“Understanding A3 Thinking”
Durward K. Sobek II and Art Smalley
CRC Press
What is an A3?
 Problem Solving Tool
 Developed by Toyota
– Supported PDCA
– Supported Total Quality program
– Top management preferred visual control over lengthy
text reports
 A3 name derived from size of paper used (A3 is metric equivalent of
11 x 17 paper)
 Problem Solving at Toyota
 Ultimate Goal is a problem resolved
– So it is less likely to occur in the future
– Skill of the problem solver is increased so they can handle
more challenging problems in the future
* Process to solve problem is more critical that short term results
 Why A3?
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Allows collaborative in-depth problem solving
Drives towards Root Cause
Defines the issue through the “Eyes of the Customer”
Forces an understanding of the Current Condition before
jumping to solutions
 Provides a consistent approach to Problem Solving
 It is easy to learn and remember
 A3 and Lean
 Direct tie in and support of:
– Value Stream Mapping
– Kaizen Philosophy
– Fast Response
 A3 Involves
 Actual Observations
 Collection of Facts and Data
 Interviews
 Analysis
 Good Problem Solving Skills
 It is also recommended that a coach/adviser assist with dialog,
critique, feedback, and development.
 A3 versus A3 Thinking
 A3 is a problem solving tool
– Used without A3 thinking it is just another tool,
that will get the same results as PDCA, or any
other tool
A3 Thinking is the process of logically working
through a problem in a systematic and
standard method
- The A3 form serves as the roadmap to guide the thinking
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
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Logical Thinking Process
Objectivity
Results and Process
Synthesis, Visualization, Distillation
Alignment
Coherency within and Consistency across
Systems Viewpoint
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
 Logical Thinking Process
– A3 thinking promotes Scientific Method of investigation
– Importance is placed on factually discerning the
difference between Cause and Effect
– Takes into account
• Numerous potential avenues
• Effects of implementation
• Possible stumbling blocks
• Contingencies
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
 Objectivity
– Quantitative facts are used to verify understanding
– Facts and Details are framed as objectively as possible
– Courses of action promote organizational good vs.
personal agendas
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
 Results and Process
– A3 Thinking is a Process that drives Results
• Results without process lead to little long term value
• Process without results fails to move the organization
forward
– A3 Thinking By You
• Allows you to know how well a person understands
the problem
• Understand how a solution fits into the larger picture
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
 Synthesis, Visualization, and Distillation
– Brevity of reports forces synthesis of information to only
the most vital points
– A3 thinking encourages information through graphical
representation to communicate the message clearly and
efficiently
– Graphical information, clearly and concisely stated,
distills thinking to critical facts
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
 Alignment
– Inclusion of the problem, the analysis, the actions, and
the follow-up plan gives all team members something
concrete to agree or disagree with
– A3 structure provides a vehicle for communication
• Horizontally – those affected by change
• Vertically – the hierarchy of the organization
• Back and Forth in Time – a record of past remedies
and recommendations to consider for the future
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
 Coherency Within, Consistency Across
– A3 report structure establishes a logical flow that
promotes coherency in the approach and thinking
– Flow of the A3 promotes consistency across the
organization, that speeds up communication and
understanding
 The 7 Elements of A3 Thinking
 Systems Viewpoint
– A3 format demonstrates that the problem solver
• Has a purpose for the actions proposed
• Actions proposed further the organization’s goal,
needs, and priorities
• Understands how the actions proposed affect other
parts of the organization
 Select A Problem
 Objectively describes the PROBLEM
 Is described in action
– Reduce
– Eliminate
– Improve
*Should not contain a solution
 Grasp the Current Situation
Background to the Problem
 Written for a target audience
– What is their background?
– What is their informational need?
 Tied to a company (business) goal
 Is Clear and Visual
– Use historical data and dates
– Help the audience understand the problem
 Grasp The Current Situation
 The Current State
Before a problem can be properly addressed, one must have a
firm grasp of the current situation. To do this, Toyota
suggests that problem-solvers:
 Observe the work processes first hand, and document one’s
observations. (Go to GEMBA)
 Quantify the magnitude of the problem (e.g., % of customer
deliveries that are late, # of stock outs in a month, # of errors
reported per quarter, % of work time that is value-added); if
possible, represent the data graphically
 Create a diagram that shows how the work is currently done.
Any number of formal process charting or mapping tools can
be used, but often simple stick figures and arrows will do the
trick.
 Target
 How will we know the project is successful?
 What will be the standard for comparison?
 Make the goal measurable
 Consider how to collect the data to validate effectiveness
 5 Why’s Analysis (Root Cause)
Root Cause Analysis
 Failure to address the root seed of the problem, most likely
means it will reoccur
– 5 Whys technique used by TOYOTA to dig to root cause
– Structured tests and experiments when 5 Whys do not
deduce root cause
 Key Questions:
– Are the work activities specified in terms of content,
timing, sequence, and outcome?
– Are the connections between entities clear, direct and
immediately comprehensible?
– Are the pathways along which goods and services travel
simple, direct, uninterrupted, and value add?
*Almost all failing systems violate one of these
 Devising Countermeasures
Countermeasures
 Once root cause is identified then brainstorming changes to
the system (countermeasures) to address the root cause
begins
– Countermeasures should be designed to prevent a
reoccurrence of the root cause
– Emphasis on Why the problem occurred not just fixing
the problem
– Multiple countermeasures are encouraged to help insure
a systems viewpoint
*Like the Current State the Future State should also be
expressed graphically
 Creating an Implementation Plan
 Should include the 4W’s and 1 H
– Who is responsible for the countermeasure
– What is the cause of the problem
– When it will be implemented
– Why this countermeasure is being implemented
– How will this be implemented
* Also includes the expected outcome of each task
 Effect Confirmation
Effect Confirmation
 Graphical representations of the effects of the Implementation
Plan
– Use the same standard as in the Goal section
– Try to verify the effectiveness of each countermeasure
– Plan in advance the data collection strategy
– Identify who will collect the data and how often it will be
collected
 Follow-up Actions
Follow-up Actions
 What have we learned?
 What additional changes are needed from our learning?
 Can other areas within our department/plant benefit from our
changes?
 Can other areas of the company benefit from our changes?
 Do our changes need documented?
 Do our standards need changed?
 Creating a Follow Up Plan
Follow-up Actions
 Important to verify the actual results against the predicted
results
– Was the implementation plan effective?
– Did you learn enough about the problem to devise
countermeasures that actually worked?
– Demonstrates that the organization is paying attention to
problems
 Obtaining Approval
 Not done as a bureaucratic step
 Is an opportunity to mentor
– Was their rigor in the development of the A3?
– Did the problem solver visit Gemba?
– Does the root cause make sense?
– Do the countermeasures address the root cause?
– Is the implementation plan realistic?
– Is the follow up plan (metrics) substantive?
Example A3’s
A3 Examples
Example A3’s
A3 Examples
Example A3’s
A3 Examples

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