A3: An Effective Problem Solving Approach for Your Company

A3 Problem Solving is a structured problem-solving and continuous-improvement approach that was first developed at Toyota.  Performed properly, the probability of successfully solving problems improves dramatically. The process uses a simple yet precise procedure that guides problem solving and can be applied to almost any situation by shop floor employees, office workers, and management.

Elements of an Effective A3 Problem Solving Process

  • Problem Situation
    Define the problem using a process flow diagram. Discover the current situation and state the problem using facts, not subjective opinions. Highlight the discrepancy between what it is and what it should be.
  • Goal or Target Statement (Metrics)
    Declare what you are trying to accomplish using SMART goals.
  • Theme or Title
    State the theme.  This serves as a straightforward identifier of the project effort and conveys the overall objective.
  • Cause Analysis
    Determine the causes and effects.  Ascertain the actions and conditions that contribute to the effects using tools for this element such as Cause & Effect Diagrams and the Five Why Tree.
  • Countermeasures
    Brainstorm possible countermeasures. Evaluate and select the best countermeasure to implement.
  • Implementation Plan
    Create the plan to successfully communicate and implement the chosen countermeasure.
  • Follow-Up
    Track and visually display the results of the implementation plan.

Benefits of A3

The A3 Problem Solving model is an important part of lean implementation that encourages active collaboration and in-depth problem solving throughout the process. It provides a methodical approach with a concise reporting format that documents actions and results.  Using this approach supports a culture for sustaining improvements and provides a foundation for future change in your organization.

Learn how to harness the power of A3 Problem Solving. Check our current workshop schedule for the next A3 Problem Solving workshop or contact BIS today to learn how the A3 Problem Solving model can help you solve problems!

Sharon Andersohn,
VP Grant Programs