Understanding A3 Thinking by Durward K. Sobek II and Art Smalley emphasizes the importance of A3 reports, which are intentionally brief and help to reconcile multiple viewpoints in cross-departmental situations. This thinking approach involves starting with one’s own perspective of the situation, collecting objective facts, and discussing the picture with others to verify its accuracy.
Be aware a natural reaction, if a person feels his or her representation is right, is to view the other’s as “wrong.” This can quickly devolve into the blame game that is common in situations involving cross-departmental participation. A3 thinking, attempts to reconcile those multiple viewpoints, as it has the view that includes multiple perspectives tends to be more objective than any single viewpoint. As a team, collecting objective facts and discussing the overall picture with others helps to verify that the picture is accurate.
The A3 report also establishes a logical flow from one section to the next, promoting coherence in the problem-solving approach. Furthermore, the A3 approach recognizes the importance of both the results and the process, and takes a systems viewpoint, which is highly valued at Toyota. Finally, observing the problem and its context first hand is highly emphasized at Toyota as it is an effective way to confront one’s own assumptions, misconceptions, and biases.