The A3 process

What is an A3?

An A3 is a structured problem solving and continuous improvement approach, first employed at Toyota and typically used by Lean manufacturing practitioners. What your A3 looks like depends upon the situation. The example below consists of the following pattern, as part of an Agile Transformation:

  1. Current situation & problem
  2. Root Cause Analysis / Conclusion
  3. Goal
  4. Corrective Action

After we agree on the four steps, we’re going to implement the correction action and then verify the results. The content of an A3 follows the logic of the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle.

Current Conditions

You need a baseline (indicator) to compare in the future. It means after you did many experiments to figure it out the problem. This baseline can be a formal assessment, one week of interviews, surveys, etc.

Root Cause Analysis / Conclusion

In order to recommend appropriate corrective actions, you need to identify the root cause of the condition. Five Whys can help you to identify the root.


The goal could be form a cross-functional team. This goal allows the team improve their performance and avoid the constraint of having specialist that are great back-end developers but have none front-end skills.

It is always better to plan baby steps (little step everyday) that for instance team members can do easily.

Good and small corrective action would be that in every Sprint every front-end developer that wants (the idea is not force anyone to do it) to improve his knowledge about back-end take small user story that have simple back-end tasks. On the other hand, if there are other back-end developers that want to develop front-end tasks they can do it.

If this experiment failed because developers feel frustrated about the delays of finishing user stories you can suggest “pivot” the plan. For instance, in the next Sprint will be the turn of Front-end developers try to learn back-end tasks. The next Sprint will be the turn of Back-End developers.

To conclude, you have to start working with developers without told them anything. Of course, when as Scrum Master (or Agile Coach) mentioned that Scrum works with cross-functional team the discussion about why some team members couldn’t do every task.

Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.

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