As passionate professionals, we have all been part of working groups. How often have you left a meeting of one of these groups feeling uninspired or overwhelmed about the direction? Sadly, it is not uncommon.

Most organizations and teams we are part of aren’t collaborating as strategically as we could be.  It is simply human nature to move hastily to begin working on implementing a solution, without aligning around important details; specifically, the problem we are wanting to solve. That is what makes A3 thinking the ideal problem-solving method. The approach is a practical and powerful way to identify the problem you must solve.


The A3 process is a problem-solving tool developed by Toyota to foster learning, collaboration, and growth.

The term “A3” is derived from the size of paper (11” X 17”) on which the design fits and is used to outline ideas, plans, and goals throughout the A3 process.

Listen to Sarah Sydlowski explain the A3 Process.


The A3 process allows groups of people to actively collaborate on the purpose, goals, and strategy of a project to solve a problem. Collaboration between talented people is critical for innovation and speed. Using the A3 process to foster collaboration can help teams invest their time and energy most effectively.


1) Identify the Problem

Since the purpose of the A3 process is to solve problems or address needs, the first step is to identify a problem or need.

2) Capture the current state of the situation

Once you align around the problem, you then look at the evidence that supports the current problem situation. How do we measure the problem? Which measures are most important to change?

3) Identify root cause(s)

Next, we try to figure out the root cause of the problem. Ask why?

4) Devise countermeasures to address root causes

Countermeasures are your ideas for tackling the problem- how do might we solve the problem

5) Define your target state

Define what the situation will be if we resolved the current problem.

6) Develop a plan for implementation

Develop a plan for how to achieve the target state. Implementation plans should include a task list to get the countermeasures in place, ideal people to lead and timeline to achieve.

7) Map Out the Follow Up Process

Develop a follow-up plan that will get others engaged to execute and measure results in new working groups.

The Hearing Health Collaborative will build the blueprint for the future state of hearing health. The goal is to complete this process in three virtual meetings, one workshop and one final virtual wrap up by the close of the calendar year.