The A3 method provides a structured format for describing and reporting on problems and their solutions. The preparation of an A3 report is an interactive process between a problem owner and his/her manager or mentor. The A3 focuses attention upon the key issues and thus aids communication and understanding. The A3 supports the PDCA cycle.
A problem solving A3 will typically include the following elements:
- Title – what change or improvement is being discussed
- Owner’s name, mentor’s name and date – identifies who owns the problem, who is advising them and the date of the current revision
- Background – establishes the business context and explains the importance of the issue
- Current conditions – describes what is currently known about the problem
- Goals/targets – identify the desired post-improvement performance
- Analysis – why do we have the problem or improvement requirement? Explore the gap between the current state and the goals/targets
- Proposed countermeasures – propose corrective actions to address the identified gap
- Plan – how will the countermeasures be implemented
- Follow-up – show how you will know that you have met your targets and anticipate any remaining issues which may need to be addressed.
The A3 plan as a PDCA storyboard
The A3 plan can be considered to be a PDCA storyboard (see PDCA page).
There are no fixed formats for A3 plans, but the following points should be observed:
- The plan should be adjusted for the type of story being told (e.g. addressing a quality problem or a corporate strategy issue)
- All four steps of the PDCA cycle must be represented
- Fit it onto one A3 page
- Don't resort to tiny text - use graphics to convey the message (charts, flow diagrams, rich pictures)
- Make sure that the story flows
1. Background - what are you talking about and why.
2. Current conditions: where do things stand now?
4. Analysis: why does the problem or need exist?
5. Recommendations: what do you propose to do and why?
6. Plan: how will you implement?
7. Follow-up: How will you know your plan has worked?
8. How will you communicate/propagate the improvements?
A more detailed description of the structure of an A3 plan may be downloaded here: