When talking about A3 reports, one thinks about problem solving approach. While this Lean tool perfectly fits this purpose, there is more than just a structured and formal approach to problem solving in it.
When using A3 reports one soon notices it’s a great media for telling stories.
The content is generally condensed and summarized, yet people familiar with the content can easily develop the story with the help of this kind of ‘script’. Conversely, listeners can follow easily a well structured story backed-up by facts and figures.
The ability to structure and tell a compelling story straight-to-the-point is not that common, therefore A3 reports are great help.
Selling a solution to a problem
Story telling is a marketing exercise, and promoting a solution is trying to sell it to the audience, the stakeholders, the boss, etc. A3 reports are great tools for telling the story starting with a problem and hopefully ending with the its eradication. If the story is well-built, e.g. problem solving approach thorough and robust, the happy end is not only wishful thinking but likely to happen.
A problem can take some time to be solved, the reviews while the solving process – solution – is ongoing should be done with the help of A3 reports for the very same reasons as for selling the solution; they’re great support for story telling. This applies for project reviews or policy deployment (cascading objectives and turning them into actions with Hoshin Kanri).
Any idea or suggestion worth being promoted can be greatly told and advertised with an A3 report or a cascade of A3 reports. Well structured stories inspire confidence and prove the thorough preparation of its promoters. Brilliant ideas often get lost because of the inability of the promoters to sell them, to tell them in an interesting way or failing to inspire the required confidence in both the idea and the carrier(s).
A3 reports can be used to summarize and structure information that are to be displayed or passed to some audience. While audience engagement is not mandatory in this case, the simpler and logical the message, the better.