Understanding A3 Thinking : A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System book cover
1st Edition

Understanding A3 Thinking
A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System

ISBN 9781563273605
Published March 7, 2008 by Productivity Press
184 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Winner of a 2009 Shingo Research and Professional Publication Prize.

Notably flexible and brief, the A3 report has proven to be a key tool In Toyota’s successful move toward organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and improvement, especially within its engineering and R&D organizations. The power of the A3 report, however, derives not from the report itself, but rather from the development of the culture and mindset required for the implementation of the A3 system.

In Understanding A3 Thinking, the authors first show that the A3 report is an effective tool when it is implemented in conjunction with a PDCA-based management philosophy. Toyota views A3 Reports as just one piece in their PDCA management approach. Second, the authors show that the process leading to the development and management of A3 reports is at least as important as the reports themselves, because of the deep learning and professional development that occurs in the process. And finally, the authors provide a number of examples as well as some very practical advice on how to write and review A3 reports.

Table of Contents


A Basis for Managerial Effectiveness
PDCA: Heart of the Toyota Way
What Don’t We Get?
A System to Support PDCA Management

3A Thinking
Seven Elements of 3A Thinking
Element 1 : Logical Thinking Process
Element 2: Objectivity
Element 3: Results and Process
Element 4: Synthesis, Distillation, and Visualization
Element 5: Alignment
Element 6: Coherency within and Consistency Across
Element 7: Systems Viewpoint
Practical Problem Solving
Grasping the Current Situation
Identifying the Root Cause
Devising Countermeasures and Visualizing the Future State
Creating an Implementation Plan
Creating a Follow-up Plan
Discussing with Affected Parties
Obtaining Approval
Executing the Implementation and Follow-up Plans

The Problem-Solving 3A Report
Storyline of the Problem-Solving 3A
Current Condition and Problem Statement
Goal Statement
Root-Cause Analysis
Check/Confirmation of Effect
Follow-up Actions
Total Effect
Reviewing Problem-solving 3As
Your Turn
Part : Write an 3A
Part : Critique Your 3A

The Proposal 3A Report
Storyline of the Proposal 3A
Current Condition
Analysis and Proposal
Plan Details
Unresolved Issues (Optional)
Implementation Schedule
Total Effect
Proposal 3A Example 
Proposal 3A Example 
Reviewing Proposal 3As
Discuss with Peer Group or Advisor
Discuss with Affected Parties
Obtain Approval
Your Turn
Part : Write a Proposal 3A
Part : Review Your 3A 

The Status 3A Report
Storyline of the Status 3A
Current Condition
Unresolved Issues/Follow-up Actions
Total Effect
Status 3A Example
Discuss with a Peer Group or Advisor
Your Turn 

Notes on Form and Style
Understand Your Data
Use the Best Graph for the Data
Label Properly
Use as Little Ink as Possible
Let the Graphic Talk

Supporting Structures
Standard Templates
Where to Start
Handwritten versus Computer-Generated 3As
Storage and Retrieval

PDCA and Managerial Effectiveness
3A Thinking
Three Main Types
Form and Style
Final Advice

About the Authors

Appendix A: "Reducing Bill Drop Time” Problem-Solving 3A Report
Appendix B: “Practical Problem Solving” Proposal 3A Report

Each chapter concludes with a Summary & Endnotes

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Durward K. Sobek II., Art Smalley