Now days you can ask any parent "How much paper do your kids go through every week?" They will likely share with you that they go through quite a bit of paper and even more ink. Yes most schools now have online portals, logins and homework that can be completed digitally and or printed out and completed manually. Let's flashback to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and caveman were turning triangles into wheels; No offense but that time was when you and I were kids going through school. It was when chalkboards filled the rooms and children wrote on paper for homework. Call me old fashioned but there was something special about the sensory development that repetition and writing created. It helped us internalize what it was that we were trying to learn. We gained the ability to memorize formulas, hard to spell words and methods of solving problems.
Today a Similar problem solving pattern has been sweeping the Globe. It stems from a sheet of paper that is 11 x 17, that same standard size gives the A3 report and thought process it's name "A3." Much like when we were writing stories on paper the A3 report helps teams or individuals tell a story. This Story can help us solve problems and through repetition creates a specific problem solving mindset.
The A3 report is commonly used with the PDCA method of problem solving (A3 thinking and New Years) and it can be used rather effectively with PDCA. Today However in hopes to expand your mind to new ideas and possibilities I would like to suggest to you that A3 is only the size of the paper. In school we did Math, Language Arts and Social Studies all on paper and in the same way any methodology can use A3 paper to create a thought process. Remember the A3 report is meant to tell a story, but I would also add that using the A3 report can assist in Problem Solving, Justification to Leadership for projects, Planning and even in Policy deployments. Chances are you may have tried to suggest a great idea to someone else and been shot down before; well that's what we use the A3 for telling a store from fact based Problem solving methods.
Now let's look at a one example of how another methodology can be applied to the A3 report to create Opportunities for results and a new way of thinking for the Individuals using the A3.
Placing the DMAIC method in an A3 chart can help develop a thought process focused on improving quality and reducing variability. Keeping in Mind that we are now using the DMAIC method not the PDCA method we will make a few of the necessary adjustments; first we will DEFINE our background information and clearly state any information you have. I have from time to time placed my objective in this column too for storytelling purposes, but for this example we will simply Define the background.
Next We will want to layout our measurement stage of the DMAIC method, in the measure stage we will document the 1. Current Conditions (VSM, Photos, Gemba) 2. Define the Goal, objective or Target if you haven't already done so and finally add any visuals that will assist you in clarifying your Objective during story telling or an attempt for buy in.
Now we are ready to move on to the Analyze portion of the DMAIC method. In this stage we want to look deeply into the measurements we have gathered with the intention of reaching a root cause for each and every one of the issues and or bottlenecks, constraints or symptoms that have been discovered. On Our A3 report we will show the Root Cause analysis (Fishbone, 5 why's) and each of the discovered root causes. After you have done this you will want to develop your possible countermeasures (used in the improve stage).
After discovering the "Root Causes" and defining possible solutions it's now time to Show in your story what it is you're going to Do (PDCA) only in this case what you are going to Improve (DMAIC). This section will clearly list and show implementation of the Solutions or a Gantt chart listing all solutions and when they can be completed by and who is doing them.
Now we are ready for the last phase of our DMAIC method hence the last block on our A3 report. In the Control phase of the DMAIC method we will need to Evaluate the Results, Create new Standards and any necessary actions to prevent the Original issue identified from returning and most importantly share the success with others that it may be applicable too.
Now that we have completed our A3 report using the DMAIC method it becomes much clearer how any methodology can be placed on an A3 report and shared with the entire company in a single page. Even more important is that by provided the appropriate Methodology for Storytelling, sharing and improving you can help your employees memorize effective ways of improving your Organization.
It should also be noted that just as the days of old, writing, writing and a little more writing...Repetition creates a thought process and links the thought with action. By giving your employees the knowledge base of how to construct an A3 report with any methodology you give them the power to discover and innovate new ideas that will eventually turn into powerful methods of Igniting your Organization's power.