LYSIPPE - Formation Lean Management, Réduction des frais généraux

A3 problem solving method

Monday 12 February 2007 by emmanuel

- People are the first asset of a company.

- Economy during the last 50 years gradually came from the era where cost of products - at the time rare (6 months of waiting for a car,…)- was relatively more important than human cost, to an era where human cost is dominating compared to cost of materials and components. The
development of people competence at all levels is a major factor of good health for companies.

- It is in any case the practice of Toyota, which deploys its own method of problem solving, from the chairman to the operator : the “A3” method. [1]

JPEG - 18.6 kb
La méthode A3 permet à Toyota de faire croitre les compétences de ses personnels.
A3 problem solving method helps people grow : hito-zukuri.

- knowing to solve a problem or a customer “crisis” is a key competence for the company: transform your company with the Toyota A3 method.

- Lysippe trains you with the method A3 Toyota. A Lysippe exclusiveness in France / Europe. In north America we can advise you the best experts, former Toyota people. For a training on the Gemba, please contact us.

- A3 method is not only a technique, it is a means of growing people and leaders by requiring them to be extremely precise and to think.

- The A3 method:

  • Is pragmatic and focused on problems description, thus facilitating installation of simple, economic, and effective solutions.
  • Includes concepts of Toyota Production System which are relevant when it comes to “seeing problems”.
  • Allows to describe problems in such way, and with such a precision, that it becomes easy to find counter-measures.
  • Practiced daily by all allows appearance of a team spirit thus developing a powerful company.
  • Makes people grow.
  • Is the elementary “brick” of the Toyota house.

What is a problem according to Toyota?

- A problem is:

1/ an incapacity to satisfy a customer requirement:

  • SKUs requested
  • Volume requested
  • Time requested
  • Quality requested
  • Price requested

2/ an incapacity to do the work such as it was designed.

3/ an incapacity to do the work in an ideal way.

- Everything is made at Toyota to make problems come to the surface and they are fixed at their root causes, not by “firemen overloaded heroes” [EG 6sigma black belts], but by all without distinction, and at lower cost.

- That makes it possible to build the second pillar of the Toyota house without which the TPS will not function: Jidoka. [2]

- The A3 method is described as an essential tool in the 10/19/2006 “webinar” about Lean management (Lean seminar on Internet) by Jim WOMACK and John SHOOK (ex formative of leaders at Toyota in Japan). You can find the file of this Webinar at this adress. Use of A3 is presented in slide 38 and on the tape the subject is evoked at the 32nd minute.

- Jim Womack declares in his letter of November 2006, entitled “from lean tools to lean management”: “Only management by science through constant experimentation to answer questions can produce sustainable improvements in value streams. (Toyota’s A3 is a wonderful management tool for putting science to work and I’ll have more to say about it in the next few months.)”

- More on A3 at the core of Toyota Production System by Tracey Richardson, Former Toyota member, LEI trainer, Audio & Script

Books on A3 & A3 sheets

A3 sheets and more from one of our partners

You’ll find basic A3 sheets in the books below, but Toyota doesn’t share their smartest pattern sheets. You can also download A3 sheets on But beware filling an A3 doesn’t mean you know the A3 process, nor you know how to solve a problem. This requires a training and a coaching process. If you want to harvest you’ve got to learn to be a farmer, and it’s quite long.

Understanding A3 thinking, by Art Smalley & DurWard K. Sobek II
ISBN: 1563273608
CRC Press

Website associated with this book :

A3 sheet and exercice from Sobek & Smalley

by John Shook
Lean enterprise Institute

Website associated with this book :

A3 sheets from LEI

A3 filled sheet from Tracey Richardson, LEI trainer

[1A3 is the paper sheet format (approx 11"x17") on which the synthesis of the problem solving path is written and told as a story to people taking part in this resolution. A3 = 420mm X 297mm sheet of paper. Toyota adopted this format because it is a wasting to present a work in more than one page.

[2Jidoka, sometimes translated Autonomation, or automation with human judgement, is a whole set of techniques. Jidoka is firstly the will to use only one operator to control several machines. Secondly production of a defect or the possibility of producing a defect is immediately announced by the automatic machine which stops instantaneously. Thirdly in manual operations, operators who encounter a “problem” (defect, variation, impossibility of following “standard” of work) must immediately warn their team leader by drawing on a cord. Line is stoped at the end of the operating cycle.

Home | Contact | Site Map | |

Follow site activity en  Follow site activity LEAN MANAGEMENT (English)  Follow site activity Know-how   ?

Site powered by SPIP 3.0.11 + AHUNTSIC

Creative Commons License