Toyota’s A3

Toyota’s A3 analysis is a standardized way of telling the story of an issue; using several boxes to outline the who, what, where, when, and how of a problem.  It is based in root cause analysis and operational learning to create a simplified chart laying out the scientific methodology of analyzing a problem, creating plans on solving the problem, and following up on the plans ensuring the methodology works.

The core basics of the A3 are:

  1. Establish the business context/important problem or issue.
  2. Describe current conditions of the problem.
  3. Identify desired outcome.
  4. Analyze situation to establish causality.
  5. Propose countermeasures (countermeasures, not solutions, since solutions usually lead to new problems, it’s not an end all be all).
  6. Define action plan for getting it done.
  7. Map out follow up processes to ensure the countermeasure is working.

The A3 process is a way for top executives to mentor and distribute authority to other levels of employees while achieving desired business results. All employees in the A3 process learn through experience, both trials and errors, much like the hypothesis process in scientific methodology. When all employees are taking part in the problem solving process it creates an operational learning environment where all employees are encouraged to become thinking, learning problem solvers.

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3 thoughts on “Toyota’s A3

  1. Joe, the last section of your post resonnated with me because I think it is so crucial to have employees at every level engaged. The “boots on the ground” often see more opportunities because they spend more time in the process and are impacted by it. Creating a culture of thinking, learning problem solvers would be outstanding! We have a suggestion database and it is intended to engage all employees in the improvement process. Somehow, it isn’t as effective as I’d like it to be. Sometimes I think about other means for this communication of ideas from the troops to the people with the resources. Do you do anything like this at you work and if so, how effective is it?

    • Jeanine, We hold daily team huddles every morning at 6:45 to review each employees metrics. If numbers were not met this gives the employee to let everyone know what happened, as well as voice their opinion as to what they think needs to happen to ensure that the loss does not happen again. It seems to be a pretty effective process as problems are gone over as they are happening and resolutions are come up with at the same time.

      • Hi Joe,

        Just catching up on blogs (I understand you don’t have to respond to this), but was wondering if employees really feel the pressure during these team huddles? I think its great that you have them, it is very efficient and resolves and problems quickly. A part of me wishes my company did this, but I would feel “on the spot” the entire time. I guess I feel that way anyway, and at least the daily team huddles there can’t be too many surprises that arise.

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