A3 thinking is a structured approach to practical problem solving and continuous improvement. It is based upon the internationally-recognised PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle and famously utilised by the Toyota Motor Corporation.

There are numerous templates for A3 problem solving - here is one typical example:

  1. Clarify the problem
  2. Break down the problem
  3. Set a target
  4. Analyse the root cause of the problem
  5. Develop countermeasures
  6. Implement countermeasures
  7. Monitor results and process
  8. Standardise and share success

Today, A3 Thinking is frequently employed as a team-based problem solving tactic within quick thinking organisations. The name 'A3 Thinking' is derived from the A3 worksheet that practitioners of this system use to tackle problems - FAST.

A3 problem solving worksheet

Image from Wikipedia - full size version here

The main advantage of A3 problem solving is the way in which it drives towards a comprehensive understanding of the problem at hand and helps the user(s) to identify the best available countermeasures. Using the A3 approach is also a great way to demonstrate continuous improvement and corrective action if you are certified to ISO 9001.

If you would like to implement a structured problem solving / continuous improvement system within your organisation, please contact NPT Management Systems to discuss your requirements. Our experienced consultants have helped numerous companies from a broad variety of business sectors to solve problems fast whilst eliminating waste and significantly improving productivity.