The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind


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Both of these components, taken together, can help any organization make continuous improvements on the long journey to creating a more productive and profitable business. Neem contact met mij op over Events Sprekers Incompany. Welkom terug. Uw account. Agenda Seminars Masterclasses e-learning Sprekers Incompany.

Actueel Opinie Interviews Recensies Videos. Beoordeel zelf slecht matig voldoende goed zeer goed. Verkooppositie: Paperback, blz. Over de auteur Over dit boek Artikelen en interviews Recensies. Samenvatting Rubriek: Organisatiekunde. Trefwoorden: A3 methodiek , Lean , Probleemoplossen. Lezersrecensies Beoordeel zelf slecht matig voldoende goed zeer goed. Algemene beoordeling slecht matig voldoende goed zeer goed. Uw recensie. Bedankt voor uw beoordeling Uw reactie is inmiddels op de website geplaatst en zal door onze redactie beoordeeld worden. Bekijk uw recensie. Lezersrecensies 1 Vond u deze recensie nuttig?

NaN Vandaag. Aanbevolen bij dit boek Gratis whitepaper: Zonder training geen veran. In actuality, the A3 format earns its name from the International Organization for Standardizations ISO designation for paper measuring by millimeters. This is the paper size that has become the standard by which Toyota communicates continuous improvement projects. This paper standard is used in just about every country in the world other than the United States. ISO A3 paper provides an additional 6 square inches of space for telling the story of improvement.

The goal is for you to be able to communicate your proposal or problem on a single sheet of paper. The idea behind the A3 is simple: communicate your proposed idea on a sin- gle sheet of paperno more and no less. In a Lean organization where everyone has multiple functions, there is little time for reading reams of data to understand a particular problem or situation. By keeping it simple, you are less likely to lose the attention of the reader and possibly their support.

Although you do not need to create an A3 for every situation, it is a good idea to use the format on a regular basis. The more you use it, the more it will become a natural part of how you approach problem situations. In your daily work, you will encounter many situations requiring action. Not all situa- tions will require the creation of an A3, but the thought process can be used at any time. There are several documented benefts to using the A3 Problem-Solving approach, as summarized below: Provides a methodical approach to problem solving Provides a succinct format for presenting or reporting facts to others Documents a trail that others can follow and use to understand the problem solvers actions and results Provides a common language and method within an organization Creates a culture conducive to sustaining Lean Manufacturing concepts Provides a foundation and lays the groundwork for future change A3 Formats As discussed earlier, A3 is a format created by Toyota for telling the story of improvement.

The A3 has two basic functions: frst as a method for making pro- posals, and second as a means of reporting on the approved actions as outlined in the proposal. By condensing the essential information to ft on one page, the A3 format makes it easier for anyone in the company to read and understand what the author is proposing or reporting.

The A3 methodology is also used to mentor subordinates on how to become problem solvers, not problem bringers. The A3 Proposal Format is used when a Team Member requires management approval to make a change or to head off any anticipated problem. The blocks of Table 1. Appendices T and U are examples of completed A3 Proposal Formats that can be used for future reference. The A3 Problem Report is used when a Team Member requires management approval for implementation of countermeasures to eliminate an existing prob- lem.

Initially it is a proposal that is presented to management and must be approved before implementation can begin. It becomes a report when the owner begins to see results from the countermeasures and reports those results to manage- ment. Once the Problem Report is mastered, creating other A3 forms becomes much easier; Figure 1.

For this reason, Toyota adopted a specifc way standard for folding the A3. By folding the A3 in half from right to left, you now have a sheet of paper in its folded state that is 8. The opening will be on the left side if folded properly. Then, by taking the top edge on the left side and folding it evenly back to the right, you have a crease on the right side. By folding the A3 in this accordion-like manner, you are able to fle it more easily. In addition, you are able to place it in report binders that contain supporting information for the A3.

With the top edge facing to the right, you have a natural tab that can be grasped and pulled, thus making it easier to open and view the contents of the A3. Figure 1. How A3 Fits into Your Organization The purpose of this A3 workbook is to provide anyone at any level within an organization with the tools needed to be an effective problem solver. More and more, managers are realizing that they must develop their entire workforce in order to help their organization achieve its goals and objectives. In a meeting with a manager from an automaker, the topic of problem-solv- ing tools, in particular Six Sigma, came up.

He told me about a study conducted by one of his Original Equipment Manufacturers OEMs regarding the types of problems they experienced. Simple Signifcant 8. Complex 0. The problem is that most organizations do not develop these basic problem-solving skills throughout their company. At Toyota, we taught problem solving in conjunction with the A3 to all departments and all levels. The A3 Problem-Solving process is one that is time effcient, can be driven down to the process level with little training, and has a high effectiveness after writing just a few A3s. Step 2 fold in half from left to right Step 1 fold 11" 17" in half from right to left Figure 1.

The nature of most Six Sigma projects requires months of training and months to complete a project.

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According to the OEM study, if a company experienced 1, problems during the course of a year, only one would be categorized as complex enough to require Six Sigma tools. I have worked with companies that have realized millions in savings as a result of A3 Problem Solving. In one situation during a Kaizen event, I used the process to help the group identify the problem and get to the root cause quickly. It is not about making a decision to use Six Sigma or A3 Problem Solving; rather, it is about using the best tool for the job.

To be an effective golfer, for example, you need a driver for those long shots and a series of irons, including the putter, to get you progressively closer to the hole. A3 and Six Sigma are both useful tools that can help a company generate a great deal of savings. However, it is important to use the right method at the right time.

How to become a better problem solver

Using Six Sigma on sim- ple or signifcant problems when A3 Problem Solving is a better ft is like using a driver to sink a 2-foot putt! The A3 process can be easily taught and practiced by every level in the orga- nization. In some cases, A3 projects may produce smaller incremental rewards, but organizations will gain greater cumulative improvements and savings through A3 Problem Solving, not to mention improving the cognitive skills of all employees. Each block fulflls a specifc function in the process of solving problems. The frst fve blocks help the problem solver create a PLAN for successful prob- lem solving.

Block 6Implementation: What actions need to be taken Who should take each action When each action needs to be completed Results of actions The seventh block of the A3 is designed to identify how the problem solver is going to CHECK to see how effective the countermeasures are in relation to the discrepancy.

Figure 2. After teaching A3 Problem Solving for plus years and having helped other organizations with their problems, I have refned my visual representation of the PDCA process. Although all four quadrants of the PDCA process are important to the success of any problem-solving effort, the Plan phase by far requires more time and effort.

Creating a good plan does not happen by accident. You must frst take the time to identify the problem precisely. Then you must analyze the prob- lem to root cause so that you can select the best countermeasures for the situation. Like problem solving, cooking a great pot of chili from scratch has four dis- tinct phases. First you have to spend a considerable amount of time preparing PLAN the contents: chopping meat and vegetables, roasting chilies, soaking the beans, and measuring out the spices.

The next phase is to combine DO all the ingredients in the pot at the right time to simmer so that all the textures are just right when you are ready to serve the chili. If it tastes right, you standardize the recipe so that you can replicate the chili. If it is too mild, you may want to add some more spices before serving. If it just does not measure up, you may scrap the chili and start all over again. Preparation of a great pot of chili requires a great deal of hands-on work, just like the Plan phase of the problem-solving process.

Combining all the ingredients, tasting the chili, and deciding if the chili meets your expectations require far less hands-on work and more monitoring and decision making, just like the Do, Check, and Action phases of the problem-solving process. Weve all heard the expression you must go slow to go fast. That is exactly what I try to communicate to my clients when they become frustrated by the Check Do Action Plan Figure 2.

I often fnd myself having to draw a modifed PDCA cycle to accurately depict the time required to create an effective plan. This modifed PDCA visual helps me maintain their focus and allows them to see how they are progressing through the A3 Problem-Solving process.

We will use the Toyota standard for this discussion. Having this common understanding within Toyota enables all Team Members to communicate situations in an easy-to-understand way. The Standard is a specifc known expectation or norm describing what should be happening in a particular situation. If the standard is not known, then it is just one persons perception of the way things should be in a given situation. The Current Situation is a description of what is happening at that point in time as it relates to the standard. The Difference is the measurable or recognizable variance between the standard and the current situation also referred to as the discrepancy, gap, or problem.

When I ask people what the problem is, they typically start talking about pos- sible causes of the problem, versus explaining how the current situation differs from what is expected. Having this common language keeps people from jump- ing to conclusions during the initial stages of the problem-solving process.

Types of problems Problems can be characterized in one of three ways: 1. Preventive Soshi. This type of problem solving focuses on preventing issues from becoming problems. Issues are likely to occur due to policy changes or other organizational changes, so it is important to be proactive to keep these issues from blowing up into bigger issues that become real problems. In preventive problem solving, you anticipate what problems could arise due to changes and take actions to prevent the problems from surfacing.

A proactive problem-solving example follows. A company currently gives every employee a Christmas bonus check at the end of October. The com- pany has decided to eliminate the bonus and go to a quarterly incentive by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC Overview 11 program. The average quarterly incentive will have an overall higher pay- out than the Christmas bonus being discontinued. The company feels that most, but not all, Team Members will think that getting four incentive checks per year will be better than one bonus check.

To avoid problems, management would need to look at all the potential reasons workers may fnd fault with the new program and defuse any issues before the program is announced. This was an actual problem at one place I worked and there were a few Team Members who opposed the new plan. If management had antici- pated the problem, they could have avoided the outbursts that occurred during the meeting when the new program was announced for the frst time.

One of the four foundations of good job relations is to tell people in advance about situations that will affect them. Continuous Improvement Kaizen. Problem solving focused on improving an existing program, system, or process Figure 2. After making an improvement, it is essential to have the ability to sustain that effort for a given period of time to demonstrate stability in the process. Once process stability has been established, Kaizen can begin again. The process begins with defning the new standard or expectation, then progresses through analyzing the obstacles, developing and implementing measures to address the obstacles, and following up to ensure successful achievement of the new standard.

Then the cycle repeats once stability of the process has been established. This is a huge part of Toyotas culture. Team Members at every level are encouraged to see how they can make incremental improvements to their processes through quality circles and the suggestion system. These incre- mental improvements may seem trivial to some organizations, but it is the cumulative effect that these incremental improvements have over the years that has enabled Toyota to succeed.

Maintenance Iji. The third type of problem solving addresses situations where an established standard is not being met. Everyone has found himself or herself in a situation where things suddenly or gradually get off track from the norm. In these situations it is essential to get back on track with minimal disruption. The sooner the problem is solved, the less impact it will have on the organization. The majority of this text focuses on this type of A3 as it is the most diffcult to master.

How problems Come to Us Problems are typically identifed in one of four ways: 1. The problem is sensed. If you sense that a problem exists, it is usually because your sense of what the normal situation should be and the way you are see- ing the current situation do not match up in your mind. At the Team Member level, the initial sense of the problem may be something as benign as hav- ing to periodically pick up boxes that keep falling off the roller conveyor.

If a Team Member senses the problem at this level, other more serious problems can be avoided. If the Team Member does not recognize and fx the problem at this level, it could lead to delays in production due to damaged product. The problem is picked up. Picking up a problem occurs when someone compares available data to a specifc standard, norm, or expectation, usu- ally based on metrics that support achieving critical organizational goals. KPIs are extremely important to the continuous improvement efforts of Lean organizations.

If the Team Member in the earlier example does not sense the problem, the Team Leader may see a decrease in productivity after examining the production results. If the prob- lem does not create a delay in production, the Team Leader may not pick up the problem until after the product is inspected and weekly or monthly quality results are posted. Time Gap Standard M e t r i c Figure 2. The problem is passed on to you. Your Team Leader, Team Members, and other departments within the organization can also pass on problems to you. The Team Leader may not fnd out about the defective product until after the daily production meeting where Team Leaders from all departments meet to discuss and share issues.

The problem bursts in your face. The fnal and worst way a problem can come to us is when it bursts in our face. This could be in the form of an accident, customer complaint, recall, or some other serious situation that arises. If the seemingly non-issue of boxes falling off the conveyor is not sensed, picked up, or passed on, you may experience a problem that bursts in your face in the form of a large order that is returned due to damaged parts.

The problem situation is the second block of the A3, but it is the beginning of the process for creating an A3. By doing this, you are able to provide the reader with background into your situation and how this problem is relevant to the organization as a whole: What area do you work in? What function is your area responsible for? What is your position within the area? What work do you perform? What, if any, relevant history surrounds this situation? Briefy explain to the reader what area or department you work in and what spe- cifc function the area provides for the organization.

You will also need to provide a description of your position and the responsibilities you have in that position. As a problem solver, it is also a good idea to provide information about events or situations that may be affected by or have an effect on the problem you have picked up. You may not become aware of situations that affect the problem you have selected until you are deeper into the process.

This is one of the reasons the Japanese encourage you to write A3s in pencil, because you may have to make numerous changes to the A3 as you learn more about the situation. Background example: I am the Team Leader of the dashboard cover carousel area within the plastics department of Lotta-Lift. I am responsible for identifying and eliminating non-value-added work from the process. Carousel production is sched- uled to increase beginning in August due to the increased demand for 1. If you look at every component of TPS, you begin to see how standards play a part in everything Toyota does.

Standards are everywhere. For instance, once a Team Leader creates a Job Instruction Job Breakdown, it becomes a standard that can be compared to the way a Team Member performs a given job or process. Each major step and key point in that process is defned and can be audited to see if there is any discrepancy or deviation. When a problem is identifed and tracked back to a specifc process, the Team Leader can use the Job Breakdown Sheet to evaluate the Team Members ability to perform the task properly.

Good 5S practices make the abnormal condition obvious to anyone, making it easier to see when there is a problem. Another use of such standardization is the Kanban. The Kanban specifes how many parts are to be delivered to a specifc location. A Kanban procedure typi- cally dictates that the Kanban be placed in the Kanban mailbox when a parts box is frst opened.

If the Team Member does not place the Kanban in the mailbox or does not pull the Kanban until the box is empty, parts will not arrive on time. Even the well-known Andon a cord that a Team Member pulls to stop the line when a defect is detected is based on a standard. The Team Member has a certain Takt time or cycle time to perform a given task. This Andon standard prevents problems from being passed on to the next process Figure 3.

Standards can also be classifed as expectations and norms. In situations where there is no defned standard, there is most certainly an expectation or norm that will apply. Without this baseline, it would be impossible to understand the magni- tude of the perceived problem, much less begin the process of solving the problem.

This culture based on standards makes it easy for all levels within the organization to know when there is a problem. This is the purpose and power of the A3 Problem-Solving process. By developing a manufacturing process based on standardization and developing problem solvers at every level, Toyota has been able to outpace the productivity and effciency improvements made by most American frms on a year-over-year basis.

The foresight to develop the problem-solving skills of all its Team Members has led to Toyotas growth in the United States and abroad. I was not aware of how completely the A3 thought process affected my daily activities until a co-worker pointed it out to me. During various events where we were paired together, he noticed that I always asked the same question every time someone asked me what to do in a given situation.

My frst response is to always ask, What is the standard or expectation? My co-worker thought I was just buying time until I could come up with a good answer to the question. However, if someone is asking me what action should be taken, I have to know what the expectation is before I can provide an informed response. Usually after asking this question and getting a response from the person, it becomes obvious to the person what should be done. Knowing the standard is critical to the process of deciding whether or not a problem exists.

Standards beneft Team Members by providing a baseline to mea- sure their progress against. This allows Team Members to be proactive and notify their Team Leader or Supervisor at any time during the day if an expectation is not being met. In the A3 Problem-Solving process, there are standards for a standard. A stan- dard should: Be specifc as to the expectation or norm Be tangible and recognizable Be quantifable and measurable Be shared and agreed to The following are examples of standards that meet the criteria of a clear standard: Each Team Member must trim and package six turkey thighs every 60 sec- onds for a total of 60 six packs per hour.

Each Team Member must produce a total of 5, boxes of 6 nails each shift on each machine 1, 2, and 3. Each operator on line 7 should assemble and test one circuit board every minute. The receptionist should have all mail metered and ready for security to pick up by p. Monday through Friday. Nurses must wash their hands upon entering and before leaving each patients room. In a successful Lean organization, the company must establish specifc stan- dards or objectives and drive them down to every level in the organization, including the Team Member level.

It is imperative that organizations looking to make a Lean transformation develop a culture based on standards. Many of the companies that I visit have overall metrics for how they want their company to perform. However, few have taken the time to drive these metrics to the Team Member level.

Fewer yet have developed the necessary problem-solving skills required in their people to effciently achieve the companys overall goals or objec- tives. The main reason organizations fail to sustain Lean and other initiatives is due to the lack of shared standards and the expectation that these standards be achieved. It is extremely important for management teams to communicate what their priorities are and how these priorities will steer the organization to success. If there is no standard, clarifying the problem becomes more diffcult. Without a clearly defned problem, it will be diffcult to create effective countermeasures that lead to improvement.

To clarify the problem, you will frst need to determine the standard for the situation. In a situation where boxes keep falling off of a roller conveyor, what is the standard? Is it acceptable for boxes to fall on the foor? Is it OK that the operator spends time picking up boxes? Because picking up boxes is a non-value-added activity, a Team Member with a problem-solving mind would begin to clarify the expectation or standard. The Team Member would need to look at the standard- ized work for the process to fnd answers to these questions. Standardized work will provide the work sequence standard based on the way to do the job and the Takt time standard based on a level or amount of time to do the job for the process.

If the operator is exceeding the Takt time, then it is a problem. If picking up boxes that fall off the conveyor is not part of the work sequence, then this is also a problem. There are two types of standards: 1. Standard levels: provide a specifc time or quantity that must be achieved. Standard ways: describe how something must be done to achieve the desired result. There are standards that are quantifable, like having a defect rate of no more than 0.

There are also standards that can be counted and are based on how something is done, such as specifying that suppliers practice frst-in-frst-out FIFO inventory control practices when making hourly deliveries to the facility. Both types of standards are measurable and specifc. Also categorize each by type standard level or standard way. See Appendix A for answers to this exercise. See Appendix B for answers to this exercise. When you sense or perceive that there is a problem, the typical response is to fgure out what action should be taken to eliminate the problem.

In the A3 Problem-Solving process, you are encouraged to delay acting on the problem until you have stated it clearly and precisely. The current situation is defned as the way things are now. You will most likely encounter a set of circumstances that is out of the norm. When this hap- pens, it is critical that you identify the facts that explain what is actually occur- ring and try to make your frst sense of the problem more specifc.

To do this, you must remove the subjectivity and replace it with facts. Understanding the current situation begins with the level at which you pick up the problem. Problems are picked up at different levels within the organization. Figure 3. The further you are from the process, the more vague the problem becomes and the more you will need to clarify and break down the problem.

By developing problem-solving skills at the lowest level in the organization, the company can keep many problems from escalating in magnitude.


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This work- book primarily focuses on problems at the Supervisor and Team Leader level. Seeing the process from this level will allow you to easily solve problems that are picked up at their most vague or specifc level. Most of the time, our initial sense of the problem focuses on an annoyance such as walking long distances to complete the process. Behind that annoyance, which is usually subjective in nature, there is usually a more important issue that should be addressed. Subjective: Engineers did not know what they were doing when they set up my process.

Fact: My process takes 20 minutes to complete, and 10 minutes of that time is spent walking and waiting. Subjective: The equipment I use in my process is too far away. I need both pieces of equipment to build each unit. To accurately depict the current situation, it is important to look at existing data related to the situation.

Make sure that you go and see the situation for yourself; do not rely on others to provide you with the information you need. Problem solving is not done in a climate-controlled offce while sitting at a desk. Consider any differences or changes and the timeline of those changes compared to the timing of the problem.

Example It currently takes the Team Member on process 5 an average of 20 minutes to produce one unit. Actual work time or value-added work takes 10 minutes and non-value-added work takes 10 minutes. If there are no data, you will have to gather the data. To do this, you may need to create a check sheet and post it in the area so that you can track occur- rences related to the perceived problem. Table 3. The data you gather will also help you later in the process when you have to break down the problem in order to precisely state your problem. As a Team Leader or Supervisor, you may grasp problems using the information posted on your team or department board.

These boards track information related to safety, quality, training, cost, scrap, delivery, and productivity. The board may also display a future-state Value Stream Map VSM of your product along with all the required action items. The use of department or team boards makes it easy for anyone in the facil- ity to see the status of the area at a glance.

The A3 Workbook

At Toyota, management would make several trips around the shop and offce each day looking at these boards and asking questions regarding the department status. Having such transparency in the work area makes it diffcult to hide problems. This transparency actually drives leadership to continually improve. In other words, put the problem in per- spective as it relates to where the problem exists within the organization and how it relates to the organizations goals and objectives. Identify the actual problem by taking in all the facts of the situation so that you can see the bigger picture.

By looking at the bigger picture, you will have a better understanding of how impor- tant the situation is in relation to other issues and how you should proceed. For example, take the word close by itself. The reader has no idea what the writer is trying to communicate. You need to be able to see the word in the same context as the writer.

Is it being used as an adjective? Or is it being used as a verb? The context of the word, combined with the text, will let you know how you are to react to the situation. If you are golfng, you may say the ball is close enough to the hole to call it a gimme. If you are a homeowner worried about utility bills, you will want to close the door to keep from wasting energy.

As you can see in this example, the context provides you with the necessary information needed to make the appropriate decision. As a problem solver, you need to think about the context of the problem and how it fts with the company objectives. The discrepancy should clearly highlight the difference between the standard and the current situation. Example Standard: The tank weld Team Member should only take 15 minutes to tack weld the tank together, 1 hour to weld the tank, and 20 minutes to grind all welds. Close 9 Figure 3. Discrepancy: It is taking the Team Member 15 minutes longer to tack weld the tank.

Determining the discrepancy may seem simple; however, the discrepancy by itself is rarely enough to provide the problem solver with the needed informa- tion to begin looking for the root cause. The discrepancy is the starting point for breaking down the problem into specifc characteristics that can be analyzed to root cause. The following are examples of production and offce problem statements. Read each statement and decide which ones represent good examples of the three components of a problem statement.

For those that you feel are not good examples, make notes on what would need to be refned. See Appendix C and Appendix D for answers to these exercises. Production Problem Statement Exercise example 3. It is taking 10 to 16 minutes to tap all three door hinge holes. This is fve to eight times longer than expected. Injection mold machines 1, 2, and 4 experience two to three parts with color mix after a color changeover, whereas injection mold machines 5 and 6 experience fve to seven parts with color mix after a color changeover.

Injection mold machine 3 is offine. As of April 15, 78 of 96 performance appraisals were turned in to HR. Performance appraisals are late. There are seven cartridges that need to be shipped to the recycler and only four boxes. Three ink cartridge boxes are missing. Three purchasing staff members are off this week.

Other departments are complaining about poor service. Kettering said, A problem well stated is a problem half solved. It was this mindset that enabled him to come from a meager childhood and become one of this countrys greatest engineers. In the A3 Problem-Solving process, a well-stated problem underscores the signifcant ways in which the current situa- tion is different from the standard, expectation, or norm. To truly understand the problem, you must break it down into specifc characteristics. These characteris- tics become the extent of the problem. To determine the extent of the problem, you must ask yourself the following: When is the problem happening time of day, days of the week, etc.

How often does it happen every hour, every day, every week, every month, etc. Where is the problem front, back, top, bottom, process 4, night shift, etc. How long has it been a problem month, day, and year if possible? What is the problem doing staying the same, getting better, or getting worse? What is affected by the problem people, processes, departments, etc.

What types of occurrences are being experienced scratches, dents, missing parts, etc. When your initial sense of the problem seems large and vague, you must break it down to get a clear precise picture of the problem. By asking these questions, you should be able to narrow your prob- lem-solving focus to specifc characteristics. Now we need to determine the extent of the problem by identifying all the relevant characteristics. Standard: The tank weld Team Member should only take 15 minutes to tack weld the tank together, 1 hour to weld the tank, and 20 minutes to grind all welds.

Current Situation: The Team Member on the tank welding process takes 30 minutes to tack weld the tank together, 1 hour to weld the tank, and 20 min- utes to grind all welds.

The Lean Insider: November

Discrepancy: It is taking the Team Member 15 minutes longer to complete the process. Extent: When? Only on D shift How often? Every time the D shift works Where? Process 3 How long? Since January 15 What is it doing? Staying the same What is affected? Following processes and the customer What types of occurrences?

Excess time tack welding To improve the effectiveness of a problem statement, it is sometimes necessary to incorporate these characteristics into the standard, current situation, and dis- crepancy. The following example incorporates key characteristics into the prob- lem statement to improve clarity. Tank Weld Scenario Standard: Tank weld Team Members should take no more than 15 minutes to tack weld the tank together, 1 hour to weld the tank, and 20 minutes to grind all welds. Current Situation: The D shift tank weld operator on process 3 is taking 30 minutes to tack weld the tank together, 1 hour to weld the tank, and 20 minutes to grind all welds.

Discrepancy: The D shift weld operator on process 3 takes 15 minutes longer to tack weld. Extent: The problem has not changed since January Once you have a precise description of the problem, it is important to fnd the Point Of Cause POC of the problem before continuing. In some situations, you will become aware of the problem at the POC. In this situation, tracking back through the process to fnd the POC will not be necessary. In this situation, the operator has identifed the problem at its point of cause. In other situations where the problem is not identifed at the point of cause, you will need to determine the POC before conducting 5-Why analysis.

The track back process starts where you frst identifed the problem and consists of walking back through the process steps. You must stop at each point in the process and look at all the product in the process to see if the defect or problem is present. If it is, then you must proceed back to the next process and look to see if the defect or problem is present. This process continues until you get to a point in the process where the defect or problem does not exist. Logic dictates that the operation following the process that you are currently in is where the defect or problem originated.

This is the point at which you will eventually begin your 5-Why analysis. Rationale Before you can write the rationale, you must evaluate each of your problems to determine which one needs your immediate attention. The evaluation process gives you a better understanding of how each problem fts into the needs of the company, area, or department. In situations where you are faced with multiple problems, it is wise to conduct the evaluation process prior to spending too much time identifying the extent No Defect Defect Originated Defect Defect Defect Identied 6 5 4 3 2 7 1 Figure 3.

It is important, as a problem solver, that you select the right problem at the right time. If you spend time try- ing to determine the extent and point of cause for several problems, you will be wasting time on the problems that are not selected during the evaluation process. This is typically more of an issue the further you are from the actual process.

The goal of the evaluation process is to determine the need to address a prob- lem now.

Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind, 1st Edition

Prioritizing the problem in the context of other problems occurring at the same time helps you communicate your rationale to others. When evaluating problems, you should ask what is the Importance? How does this problem ft with management objectives related to cost, quality, safety, productivity, delivery, and personnel? How quickly should this problem be addressed to prevent it from creating other problems?

Based on what you have observed and the data available, what will happen regarding this problem if nothing is done? Will it get worse if left alone? High Will it stay the same? Medium Will it get better on its own? Low Example The company is scheduled to provide a new customer with product beginning the frst week of January, provided the company meets ISO certifcation require- ments. The ISO certifcation audit is scheduled for October 15 of this year. Problem: All level 2 documents are to be completed by July 31 of this year.

Rationale: Importance. ISO certifcation is a high priority for management, as the new customer requires that suppliers be ISO certifed prior to submitting product orders. This problem must be addressed immediately in order to meet the new customers ISO certifcation requirements. If no action is taken, documentation will continue to fall behind schedule and the company will not make the certifcation deadline. In a situation where there is more than one problem, it may be necessary to highlight why you selected one particular problem over another. Creating a simple grid can simplify the process and make it easier for others to understand why you selected one problem over another.

All these factors should be considered when several problems arise at the same time and priorities should be determined. When developing the rationale for your problem, keep in mind that you are explaining to your supervisors and management why you picked up this problem and why it is important for them to assist you in solving this problem. At this stage of the process, if targets are not set, procrastination can set in and other things may take priority.

Most companies that I visit do not make a distinction between a target and a goal. In A3 Problem Solving, goals are set by management and represent managements direction for the organization. The target is the third block of the A3 and is completed after the problem situation block of the A3. One way that Ive seen this done was through mandatory attendance at monthly and quarterly company meetings.

One day per month, the production requirement would be reduced so that all Team Members could be in attendance at a monthly meet- ing. During the meeting, information on market share, safety, quality, delivery, and even planned Team Member events that are designed to improve morale were shared. Without this type of information, many organizations will struggle to achieve their objectives because there is no shared agenda. Dont get me wrong; Im not suggesting that stopping production to have meetings will work for everyone. However, I do suggest that companies fnd ways to share this type of information on a regular basis to ensure that everyone understands the companys current position in the market and what needs to be done to guarantee the future suc- cess of the company.

In a Lean organization or an organization making a Lean transformation, prob- lem solvers are responsible for setting targets to support managements goals. Targets represent incremental movement toward managements goals. Lets say that you are the special teams coach of your favorite football team.

Figure 4. To be specifc, you need to know what change you expect to see and how you will measure the change. Targets must also be achievable and realistic. This means setting dates that are reasonable in regard to what needs to be accomplished and what constraints apply to the situation.

Constraints can be deadlines established by management, customer requirements, resources, or other requirements. To meet these criteria, a good target statement will contain four basic components: 1. A verb that describes the action you want to take, such as increase, decrease, reduce, or eliminate. A brief descriptive statement of the problem based on the characteristics identifed in the extent. This statement becomes the To What portion of the target.

A specifc measurement of what you want to achieve based on the standard identifed in the problem situation. This is known as the How Much part of the target. A specifc time frame month, day, and year for achieving the result based on the constraints of the situation. This date is the By When and completes the target statement. If you are unable to drive the needed change at your level in the organization, it is impor- tant that you elevate the problem to the appropriate level.

Keep in mind that you should not just bring the problem but you must also know why the problem exists and have ideas for resolving the problem. The A3 is the perfect tool for elevating the problem to the appropriate level. In addition to a target statement, you may also want to include a line graph to visually display your target. Target Statement Exercise Read the following examples and rate each target statement using B for best, G for good, or N for needs improvement.

See Appendix E for answers to this exercise. Reduce the time it takes to tap all left side door hinge holes from 15 min- utes to 10 minutes by the end of the week. Reduce the time it takes to tap all left side door hinge holes by no later than August 30, Eliminate downtime on sewing line 4 by no later than November 7, Eliminate downtime on sewing line 4 due to broken needles by November 7, Improve turnaround time on book binding from 2 weeks to 3 days by April 30, Reduce book binding turnaround time from 2 weeks to 3 days by April 30, Increase Team Member morale rating on the opinion survey.

Move to 95 on the list of best places to work in the state by Improve Lotta-Lifts ranking on the list of best places to work in the state from to 95 by May 10, Creating the Theme It seems obvious that the theme block, being at the head of the A3 form, would be the frst part of the A3 to be completed. But in this case, logic trumps the obvious. The theme provides the reader with the focus of the A3. However, at the beginning of the process, your sense of the problem is prob- ably vague. Deciding on a theme at this point would not provide the reader with any insight into the true nature of the problem.

For that reason, it is important that the problem solver wait until the problem situation is defned and the target has been set. The theme must capture the essence of what you are trying to achieve and should never exceed one sentence in length. It should capture the attention of the reader by specifying the characteristics of the problem. The theme comes directly from the target statement set by the problem solver.

In most A3 reports that Ive read outside of Toyota, the owner usually man- ages to create a concise theme. However, these themes are usually so concise that the reader does not really understand what the problem solver intends to accomplish. Think about the following examples: 1. Reduce outlet box scrap. Reduce outlet box scrap on molds 13, 15, and 17 due to missing tabs. In both cases, the reader knows that outlet box scrap is the focus of the prob- lem and what the writer wishes to address. However, in the second example, the writer communicates the focus much more clearly by including which molds and the actual defect resulting in the scrap.

Having already created a clear target statement makes it much easier to state the theme. The most effective and descriptive method for stating the theme is to use the Do What and To What portions of your target statement, providing that you did a good job breaking down the problem and including the character- istics in the target statement.

Write a theme for each of the target statements. See Appendix F for answers to this exercise. Theme: example 5. The speakers produced on your line have a specially designed diaphragm made of a clear plastic-like material that is more effective at reproducing high-quality sound. Production is scheduled to begin June 15, making the product available for sale in time for the July 4th holiday.

As a Team Leader, you are responsible for training employees using Job Instruction, responding to Andon calls originating from your line, assisting Team Members, relieving them for emergency breaks, and for solving problems that affect your line. In short, you are responsible for keeping the line running and for producing quality products in a timely manner.

You just returned to work after a week-long vacation at White Sands, New Mexico, where you spent time improving your snowboarding skills by practicing on the white gypsum sand dunes. Shortly after lunch, you stopped by the sound test station near the end of the assembly line where the 8- to inch speakers are visually inspected and then tested for clarity of sound. You looked at your department board and noticed that quality defects are up signifcantly on the 8- to inch speaker line since Monday of last week.

To verify that your initial perception that quality defects have increased sig- nifcantly is accurate, you compare the standard to the total number of defects on the quality checksheet at the sound test station. There were 1, units produced, and of those units had defects. Stop: Using the above information, write a statement of the background in the blank Problem Situation block provided at the end of this chapter Figure 6.

Once complete, return to the section of the text that explains the Standard. The following is a list of speaker parts and their functions, and Figure 6. You identi- fed four different types of defects that make up the total of defects on the 8- to inch speaker line: 94 suspension separation defects 3 torn diaphragms 2 dented dust caps 1 chipped magnet There are two places where suspension separation can occur. You decide to further break down the 94 suspension separations into the area between the Torn Diaphragm 3 of Suspension Separation 94 of Chipped Magnets 1 of Total Defects Dented Dust Cap 2 of Figure 6.

Figure 6. The suspension separation defects break down accordingly: 91 where the diaphragm and the suspension meet 3 where the suspension attaches to the basket Now you decide to look at when the 91 suspension separations between the diaphragm and the suspension occur by breaking it down between Blue and Red shifts; Figure 6. To fnd this out, you begin to track back, beginning with pro- cess 6, the sound test station where the problem was detected; Figure 6.

At process 5, you inspect the product at the process. This includes review- ing any inventory or batch product. You see that the problem is evident at process 5. You continue tracking back to process 4 and look at the product. The problem still exists at process 4. After repeating this process several times, you fnd no evidence of the problem at process 2.

See Appendix G for answers to this exercise. Once the problem is identifed, there must be a clear understanding of why it occurred before taking any action to correct the situa- tion. The objective of Cause Analysis is to identify the root cause s of the prob- lem so that it they can be eliminated or minimized. Another term for cause analysis is 5-Why. This is a technique used to ensure that you ask why enough times to uncover the real root cause s of a problem.

In many of the facilities I have visited, 5-Why means asking for fve different reasons as to why the problem occurred, none of which proceed logically to the root cause. The true nature of 5-Why is to ask why in a manner that leads you from the problem to the root cause. A critical part of the 5-Why process is to investigate the causes at each level to fnd out which ones are facts and to let the facts lead you to the root cause. The other reason the Japanese use the number 5 is because many odd num- bers in Japan are considered lucky; and when it comes to solving problems, a lit- tle good luck is not a bad thing.

It could have been called 3-Why but it was felt that by only asking why three times, you would not be digging deep enough to get to the real root cause. Imaeda also explained there will sometimes be fewer than 5-Whys and sometimes more than 5-Whys, depending on the situation. To be effective at solving problems, you must be able to build a succession of cause-and-effect relationships that direct you from the problem to the root cause.

The process of creating these cause-and-effect relationships known as 5-Why must be based on fact at each step, not assumption. This point as well as the importance of breaking down the problem in the Problem Situation has been an eye-opener for more of my students than anything else. Many of my students were under the impression that a 5-Why chain was a series of I thinks rather than I knows.

I think it is because of this. And so it goes until they think they have reached the root cause. This process of getting facts is an absolute necessity in the A3 Problem- Solving process. However, this process does not proceed in a straight line from problem to root cause. There may be several detours along the way to identifying the root cause s. Figure 7.

Cause Analysis process Start at the Point Of Cause by asking yourself, Based on the facts of the cur- rent situation, what could be causing the problem? The answer to this question can take you in one of two directions. Either you think you know why, or you do not know why. If you think you know, check to confrm your belief. Once confrmed, the answer becomes the next link in the cause-and-effect chain. To generate meaningful poten- tial causes, think in terms of Mankind, Method, Material, Machine, and Environment, otherwise known as the 4Ms and 1E.

Example You are the third-shift Maintenance Team Leader and it is Sunday night, the beginning of the workweek. You have been called to the packaging line for the third week in a row because the ink jet printer will not print.

The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind
The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind
The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind
The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind
The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind

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