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:
- Establish the business context/important problem or issue.
- Describe current conditions of the problem.
- Identify desired outcome.
- Analyze situation to establish causality.
- Propose countermeasures (countermeasures, not solutions, since solutions usually lead to new problems, it’s not an end all be all).
- Define action plan for getting it done.
- 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.