1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hello and Welcome to The Quality Forum Online...Continuing in the spirit of People Helping People !
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
You must be a registered member in order to post messages and view/download attached files in this forum.
Click here to register.

A3 Process

Discussion in 'Lean, Six Sigma and DFSS' started by Tom Waite, Sep 21, 2015.

  1. Tom Waite

    Tom Waite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2015
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    17
    Location:
    Grand Rapids Michigan Area
    Anyone have experience with the A3 process and have input on how successful it was? What road blocks did you hit - same as other tools or new road blocks? Any tips for using it and making it successful?
     
    MCW8888 likes this.
  2. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2015
    Messages:
    637
    Likes Received:
    190
    Trophy Points:
    42
    I did that on my Lean Six Sigma project. This is a very powerful tool that drives continuous cmprovement. I went through the whope DMAIC steps following the A3. The effectiveness if this A3 process is the follow-up for sustainability.
     
    Tom Waite likes this.
  3. Reluctance

    Reluctance Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    2
    Location:
    Iowa
    I used it once, but have not used it since. :D

    It is very similar to other tools in my opinion. The only thing it really did for me was to keep everything concise since the intent is to keep everything on a single sheet of A3 paper. That was the original A3 as I understand it anyway.

    Part of my issue, and why I think I have not used it again, was that I was the only person involved in using the form/process to work through a problem. Had this been more of a cross-functional project like I originally intended it may have gained more traction. Where I work we are not very good at public acknowledgement of successful problem solving actions. It is all about moving on to the next thing with none of this unnecessary self-inflation.
     
  4. Bev D

    Bev D Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2015
    Messages:
    342
    Likes Received:
    342
    Trophy Points:
    62
    Location:
    Maine
    I have played with this for years. it is both
    1. "One big piece of paper that forces you to be concise and to the point"
    2. "problem solving framework".

    The issues I encounter with number 1 is that so much of todays' work is electronically documented, shared and presented that a big piece of paper is viewed as being archaic. the large format doesn't translate well on powerpoint to present and like it or not, PPT is the defacto presentation system in business. I also get a lot of 'this is just duplicate recording' of my larger files and my powerpoint stuff and so its not lean. which is true. The QA Director and I have mandated the use of the 8D framework for the problem solving steps and so we've created a PPT template to record each step in summary format. 1 slide for each of the 14 steps (yes I can count, we've had to go to 4a and 4b steps, etc. to get all of the steps we want to specifically call out). We keep trying to go a single big piece of paper but our CEO is a green guy so he is adamant that we keep our paper to a minimum and with the new 'collaborative' (read compressed) workspace designs there just isn't any room for paper anymore. We are considering white boards with the 8D steps on them for the quicker and less formal local problem solving efforts...but we struggle with how to 'record them' for our QMS objective evidence of corrective action...we need to get over the idea that every problem solving effort must be recorded...

    The issues I encounter with number 2, is that the problem solving concepts encapsulated in A3 are also common to DMAIC, 8D, Kepner Tregoe, etc. it's really nothing all that unique. You must have a solid Problem statement that focuses on effect and not cause, you need to diagram the process (and the function if dealing with physics) and understand the current state, you should use 5-Whys (with data, objective evidence and where appropriate statistically sound experiments) to understand cause before developing solutions (brainstorming causes/fishbone diagrams is out in both Lean and good problem solving), you need to ensure that your solution will both solve the problem and doesn't cause other problems, crossfunctional teams are critical to success...etc.

    So for me it comes down to 'A3' is a big piece of paper. that no one wants to use. I believe I hit the intent with both Lean and technical problem solving as we require a one page executive summary to be ready at all times for each problem. These summaries are in the 8D step format and Teams use them because it forms a roadmap/checklist for them and it doubles as the exec summary that urgent and important problems require for regular (daily to weekly) updates to leadership. We also have a requirement for a one page '5-Why' tree diagram so that teams can track and explain their diagnostic progress towards cause. The teams find it helpful because it provides a tangible visual of their strategy and helps them to keep their thoughts and process organized and focused. Since leadership is familiar with the format and method there is less 'questioning & redirecting' when teams use this. In fact, we've discovered that leadership will ask where their 5-Why is if it isn't shown early in a presentation or update. All of these are usually created electronically and only rarely printed.
     
    Brian Vandolah likes this.
  5. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    2
    Location:
    Ft. Worth, TX
    I also experimented with A3 on a Lean Six Sigma project (several years ago) when going for my Green Belt. While initially attracted to the conciseness factor of an A3 presentation, I ultimately found the format to be a little outdated due to its perceived dependence on A3 paper and now that there are so many other tools out there, coupled with the advent of the digital world (as Bev described above), I think A3's relevance diminishes with each passing year. But it's still a nice way to grasp problem solving if that's your cup of tea....
     
  6. Bev D

    Bev D Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2015
    Messages:
    342
    Likes Received:
    342
    Trophy Points:
    62
    Location:
    Maine
    An additional thought: When I was at a major Japanese Auto Manufacturer in the early nineties we used 'A3'. I clearly remember a new engineer being gifted with a rather large box of colored pencils by his Japanese mentor. He thought it was an insult but the mentor did it with the greatest of respect. He wanted the engineer to be able to DRAW PICTURES in color. One of my most favorite mentors still uses colored pencils and never brings a laptop. He is a genius at solving Problems...There is something profound and visceral about putting pencil to paper and drawing out the situation. the fewer words the better. Paraphrasing Einstein: if you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. At the time I thought it as primarily to deal with the language barrier, it was only after using it and thinking about it that I came to understand.

    One of the fundamental principles of the A3 is that you document each step with drawings, pictures, diagrams, charts, etc. Having to squish things in makes you really focus. I've found that when I have my problem solving teams literally hand draw function and process maps and hand draw out study designs and the sample space of possible experimental results, etc. we get much better results much faster. Even tho the new ones complain; they want to use powerpoint or the camera on their phone or Visio or Auto CAD. what a waste of time. (I still have to deal with the pretty presentation to management via powerpoint)

    This is one thing I really like about A3, but you don't have to be constrained to a single large piece of paper...
     
    QAengineer13 and Brian Vandolah like this.

Share This Page