An A3 Report is often thought of as a format for making improvements in a simple, visual and concise way.  When used fully, it’s a tool for process improvement and organizational transformation.

The name A3 is derived from the designation for a ledger-size sheet of paper – in the US, we refer to is as 11X17.  The power of an A3 comes from several key concepts.  First, the constraint of getting all information onto one 11X17 page challenges the writer or team to be very clear in its thought process and understand what information is truly important to their objective.  Second, the A3 becomes a powerful tool for collaboration as it is used to present improvement initiatives, report on progress and seek feedback from others in the operation.

While the A3 format can be used to support a many objectives, one common use is to support an improvement initiative.  In this case, the A3 is divided into a few simple sections.

1. Background of the improvement goal – what are we trying to fix?

2. Current conditions – what is happening today

3. Goals – what specifically are we trying to accomplish with this change

4. Analysis – what is the gap between where we are today and where we want to be

5. Countermeasures or solutions – what are possible solutions (not just one) and barriers to successful implementation

6. Plan for improvement – what will our new process look like

7. Follow-up – confirm results and sustain the change

Once this simple tool is learned, it can be used to support everything from a simple process improvement to implementing strategic initiatives for a global corporation.  Like so much in the lean thinking, the tool is extremely simple, yet the results can be very powerful.