Among the many different popular methodologies for solving problems in a systematic manner, A3 has gained a lot of prominence in recent times, and itâ€™s quickly shaping up to be one of the most promising long-term solutions for organizations looking to normalize the state of their problem-solving techniques. There are many benefits to applying A3 to ordinary problems, as well as more complex ones, and its flexibility and versatility is one of the biggest factors in its popularity.
Defining the Problem and Breaking it Down
The most important step is to begin by creating an accurate definition of the problem. Itâ€™s critical that itâ€™s broken down into fundamental components that are easy to assess, as this will be one of the foundations of the solutions that you develop later on. Any parts that are not initially clear need to be additionally clarified before being submitted to the plan, as the problem description has to be as barebones as possible.
Otherwise, you risk running into additional complexity issues when developing the solution later on, which can lead to a decreased productivity in its implementation. Obviously not an ideal case if youâ€™re trying to develop a solution thatâ€™s as simple as possible.
Identifying Root Cause and Isolation Procedures
Knowing the root cause of your problem is going to make it much simpler to identify an appropriate solution for it, which is why this is another critical aspect of the A3 process. Root cause analysis is a separate field of its own that requires a careful approach in order to get the best results, but once youâ€™ve applied it correctly, it should be pretty obvious what you need to address in order to resolve the problem in an efficient manner.
Itâ€™s also important to isolate the solution from the other components of the system and ensure that there is no interference there. Itâ€™s not rare for a solution to a problem to lead to other problems of its own when isolation is not applied correctly, and this can, in turn, bring you to a state thatâ€™s even worse than your initial one. Itâ€™s true â€“ inefficient implementations of A3 can end up being detrimental to the progress of your company, so be careful with how youâ€™re applying it.
Applying Corrective Measures and Confirming Results
After the root cause has been identified and appropriate steps for addressing the problem have been developed, itâ€™s time to put them to action. You have to apply your corrective measures exactly as they were initially planned though â€“ make sure that there is no deviation from the original plan and that you follow it precisely. You may feel tempted to make certain slight â€œimprovementsâ€ to the design here and there, but that can only lead to trouble.
Thatâ€™s because you likely donâ€™t have the full picture in your mind at this point, and you donâ€™t know exactly what kinds of changes were required in order to implement the solution to the problem. Itâ€™s very likely that one of those adaptations that you may have in mind will lead to even more trouble in the long run, as youâ€™ll be modifying the project according to specifications that you donâ€™t have available.
The A3 problem solving approach is an extremely efficient one, with numerous applications across various industries. However, it has to be applied in a careful and calculated manner, always keeping check of certain variables that may be easy to lose track of. And most importantly, make sure that you always evaluate exactly how your changes are going to impact the project in the end. Donâ€™t just make alterations to the design for the sake of it â€“ make sure that they are actually calculated as precisely as possible, and that you can measure their impact in the end!