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The A3 is a visual management tool for structuring communication through a standard and clear format. It is a kind of 5S of information.


The A3 is a visual representation of a subject in A3 format (29.7 * 42): It is a clear presentation of a problem and its solutions understandable not only by the interested but also by all those who are not specialists in the question ».

This concept is part of the observation that any information can be explained clearly on a simple and easy to understand medium. The complexity is indeed not a clear brand of thought:

The true strength of intelligence is not to understand complicated things, but to strip them of what prevents them from being simple “- Pierre Biillion

This principle appeared in the years 60 in Japan at the same time as the development of the circles qualities for solving the problems qualities. The challenge was to improve problem solving through a clear communication tool. He will actively participate in the change of culture by allowing the creation of Visual management, helping to animate a project group, standardising the communication and making a 5s of information by structuring the thought.
The concept of A3 is symbolic. It is just there to highlight the fact that one can make good communication without important means and simply with a sheet of paper.

A3: A communication standard

The A3 helps to facilitate sharing and decision making. As such and as a disseminated communication tool, this document must meet the rules for the elaboration of a Standard : The best way to make known to this day. This implies that for a typology of A3, there can be several models of A3. In addition, the A3 must:

  • Have clear, concise, explicit titles.
  • Have a logical sequence and ” tell a story “.
  • Have enough information so that everyone can understand the story.
  • Be clearly organized: Well separated pavers, balanced in text and graphics, adapted font size and good use of bold and underlined characters.
  • Have a structure of PDCA.
  • Display the A3 in a dedicated communication space

The different types of A3


A3 Problem Solving

Report A3

Action Proposal A3

Use by the project group for the reviews of the problem solving project.

Allows you to do the reporting for the current project or just finished.

Supports suggestions for improvements by describing the project.


Description of the gap between the ideal situation and the current situation

Decomposing the problem (5W2H)

Description of the objective

Analysis of the causes: 5M and 5 why

Proposal of the countermeasures

Context of the project that we want to describe the advancement

Description of the project

Objectives, planning and team of the project.

Purpose of the document

Background: History, current situation…



Planning and deploying actions

Activities carried out versus planned activities

Action proposal

Deployment Plan


Control of the result


Expected results


Standardization of measures

Future improvements

Point to duplicate (Yokoten)

Future improvements

Possibility of duplication (Yokoten)

Design of an A3

  1. Determine the purpose of the document
  2. Choose the type of A3
  3. Elaborate ” The story ” that one wishes to tell
  4. Check the history on the criteria of clarity and brevity
  5. Create the information to accompany the story (graph…)
  6. Finalize details: Bold, title, color scheme…
  7. Check whether the A3 satisfies the initial objective with a non-insider panel


J. K. Liker (2004) – The Toyota Model: 14 principles that will make your business a success

M. Ballé, G. Beauvallet (2013) – The Lean management

F. A. Meyer (2014) – Apply the ToC Lean Six Sigma in Services

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