How Toyota solves problems, creates plans, and gets new things done while developing an organization of thinking problem-solvers.
One key management tool that is part of Toyota Motor Corp.’s widely heralded production system is a
report that Toyota calls an A3. The structure of an A3 report is simple: It involves a standard template
that conveys information within a series of boxes. However, this simple structure plays an important
role. Using the panels within the A3 report template, an employee authoring an A3 can perform a number
of important tasks that are part of problem solving: establishing the context of the problem and
describing the current situation; identifying the outcome that is desired; analyzing the situation to
determine the causes of the problem; proposing possible approaches to address it; creating an action
plan; and setting up a follow-up process.
Furthermore, the use of A3 reports allows managers to mentor employees by teaching them skills
that are important to Toyota’s culture–such as how to analyze the root causes of a problem and avoid
leaping to conclusions about possible solutions. The author explains how A3s are used and includes a
visual example of an A3 report. He maintains that A3s can help teach problem-solving skills within an