The definition of an A3 Report is a simple storyboard that tells the whole story of an improvement event on one 11×17 sheet of paper. The left side defines the problem, the right side proposes solutions. That is the basic structure. However, A3 is much more than that. It is the tool used by Toyota to implement the PDCA process. Understanding A3 thinking and you can apply this to problem solving, proposals and status reports. But you have to pick a template and you have to follow some outline in creating an A3 to get it off the ground.
Typically, when I create an A3, I go about it a little differently by utilizing the Six Sigma principles of DMAIC. This acronym stands for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. The Six Sigma process improvement process(DMAIC) is closely related to the PDCA lean process. The difference is the set of tools being utilized. I believe DMAIC has a stronger set for variation and process control. The PDCA process has a more simplified version. Depending on your needs either tool applied appropriately can be utilized. Lean has a tendency to be favored initially because of the lack of measurements within most organizations and that process is a little more forgiving. The important part is that you start the process. The chart simplifies the DMAIC process:
Define -What is important?
Measure – How are we doing?
Anaylyze – What is wrong?
Improve – What needs to be done?
Control – How do we guarantee performance?
Whether you decide to use DMAIC or PDCA for your A3 makes little difference. The tools are just that, tools. The important part is that you have flexibility to format your A3 report in any way that most effectively can tell and demonstrate your story to your team and others. Your goal is not to complete the A3 report, it is to harness all of the benefits through implementation from the problem solving that took place.
I use A3 Reporting in the marketing process. It demonstrates and recaps the thoughts, efforts and actions that took place for a particular campaign, such as advertising or public relations or even a launch. This report can really highlight the value that marketing supplies. I will be discussing DMAIC and A3 and how it applies to the foundation of the Lean Marketing House™ in the upcoming weeks.