Introducing the A3 – part 2: layout

With the basic A3 definition and concepts out of the way, what does a blank A3 look like?

Checking out the A3 layout

As you may recall, the A3 is rectangular, of size similar to two 8″ x 10″ sheets laid out side by side, and can be viewed as consisting of two halves, the left one and the right one. Generally speaking, the left half addresses the analysis aspect of a specific problem or issue, whereas the right half documents the corrective actions proposed to rectify the situation.

The left side of the A3 – tackle this first, moving downward section by section.

Issue and Objective


Current state

Root cause analysis

The right side of the A3 – tackle this next, moving downward section by section.

Target state


Implementation plan

Cost/benefit analysis

Follow-up plan

Over time, the basic A3 format has evolved to accomodate specific needs and preferences — to wit, some practitioners prefer to start with Background info, and then lead into the Issue/Goal rather than the other way around. Nevertheless, and small variations notwithstanding the above layout holds in the overwhelming majority of cases. Practitioners unfamiliar with the tool should strive to:

  • master the “standard” version of the A3 before introducing their own tweaks
  • follow the left half/right half sequence, and, within each half, the top-to-bottom sequence supported by the standard layout in developing the A3.

Do not skip steps, especially when doing root cause analysis and drilling down to identify the real reason(s) of a harm event, waste, or other undesirable behavior or situation.





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