Adding Toyota’s A3 Report Process to your EA Toolkit

Joe McKendrick (@joemckendrick) wrote about Lean IT on ZDNet on Dec 27, 2010 titled Eight steps to achieve lean  IT.

In his set of steps, Joe mentioned the Toyota A3 Report approach to looking at problems and A3 Thinking.   He refers to this site about the A3 Process.  You can download a template here.

Here are the 7 steps to the process:

  1. Identify a problem or need
  2. Conduct research to understand the current situation
  3. Conduct root cause analysis
  4. Devise countermeasures to address root causes
  5. Develop a target state
  6. Create an implementation plan
  7. Develop a follow-up plan with predicted outcomes

In my masters studies on Technology Change Management, we were introduced to Toyota’s A3 approach as a tool for structured, problem solving.  John Shook wrote about “Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report” in the MIT Sloan Management Review.   The article explores:

“How Toyota solves problems, creates plans, and gets things done while developing an organization of thinking problem solvers”.

Shook describes Toyota’s use of a two page mechanism called the A3 Report for attacking problems.  He found the following:

  • The A3’s constraints (just 2 pages) and its structure are the keys to the A3’s power
  • The A3 process can be used to effectively solve problems and plan initiatives, its greatest value may be how it fosters learning and it provides ideal opportunities for mentoring
  • The A3 report becomes the basis for collaboration

We constantly look for ways to show value using Enterprise Architecture and the A3 process should be another tool to add to an EA’s toolkit.   I recommend reading the article I linked in this post and would be interested in hearing from any of you who have used this process.

Shook, J. (2009). Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report. MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2009, Vol. 50 No. 4 P. 31-33.