5 Easy Steps to Creating and Implementing an A3 report
MIT released an article entitled “Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report” in which the author describes how Toyota uses the A3 reports to manage people to achieve operational learning. Toyota claims to have found the secret to creating a culture in which employees learn to learn; thus promoting problem solving in a manner that creates knowledge. This blog article describes five steps to creating and implementing an A3 report (a lean 6 sigma tool for continuous improvement).
Step 1 - Identify the Defects or Improvements
Identify the defects or process improvements that you want your continuous improvement team to investigate. The defects or improvements that have been identified by the process owner, typically, are presented in performance reports or balanced scorecards (BSC). The continuous improvement team is normally a group of 4-6 frontline workers in charge of continuously improving a process.
Step 2 - Determine the Root Causes
The continuous improvement team conducts a meeting to determine the high level causes of the process issue as well as the root causes. During the meeting, the continuous improvement team will brainstorm all the reasons for the issues in the performance. The team will use the fishbone diagram technique and then apply the five-why framework to identify the root causes.
Step 3 - Determine the Baseline Measures and Goals
The continuous improvement team will determine i) the baseline measures to be captured for a month, ii) who will collect the data, iii) the definitions of what they are collecting, and iv) the procedures.
The team will also identify the expected goals from any countermeasures that are put in place. At this time, the team should have enough information to complete several sections of the A3 report, i.e. Background section, Root Cause Analysis, and Goals section.
Once this is complete, the team will measure the baseline measures for a 1-month period.
Step 4 - Identify and Prioritize Countermeasures and develop and action plan
The continuous improvement team will identify countermeasures (e.g. small initiatives) that can be implemented to eliminate the root cause. The countermeasures should be focused on root causes that significantly impact the process performance issue, which can be identified by examining the data in Step 3.
Once the countermeasures for each root cause are identified, the team will rank and select the countermeasures to be implemented.
For each countermeasure, the team will develop an action plan, schedule, level of effort and cost to implement the countermeasures.
Step 5 - Implement countermeasures, measure the impact and determine next steps
The continuous improvement team will complete the Effect Confirmation section of the A3 report, which includes a diagram of how the countermeasure will work and the measures that will be tracked after the countermeasure is implemented. The measures should be the same as those used to track the baseline data identified in Step 3.
The continuous improvement team will implement the countermeasures and track the results for a 1-month period. After a month, the team will conduct an assessment of the results to see if the goals are met or if there are any unintended impacts as a result of the countermeasure. From this analysis, they will determine if steps 1-5 must be repeated or if they can move on to correct the next issue.
At the end of the process, an A3 report will capture the following information:
- Background of the issue;
- Root cause Analysis that includes baseline data;
- Goals to be realized once the countermeasures are put in place;
- The countermeasures, the action plan, and schedule;
- A visual description of the countermeasure and the results;
- Next steps
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The following URLs provide great additional information on Lean 6 Sigma
Toppazzini and Lee Consulting Lean 6 Sigma Consulting at -Lean Six Sigma Consulting
Linkedin Six Sigma Group at http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=37987&trk=anet_ug_hm
ISixSigma web site at www.isixsigma.com
ASQ web site at www.asq.org