Sunday, October 18, 2009

How to enhance the Visualization of your A3 with Tools

So let's review...... I did a previous blog post on A3's. So what are they? Go here:
When developing/creating an A3 report (11 x 17 size of paper) its often useful to embed different types of "A3 tools" to assist the reader in quickly visualizing the problem your trying to solve. Many people are "visual" learners and with the rapid pace of the work day its efficient to quickly see the problem, rather than read through a long report to find it out "what I need to know".
So which tools are most often used?
  • Bar Graph
  • Line Graph

  • Pie Charts

  • Pareto Charts

  • Fishbone(brainstorming & cause/effect)

  • Tree Diagram
What do these tools show and when should you use:
Line and Bar are a similar tool; it really comes down to preference. These 2 tools are often used to quickly see trends, peaks, and valleys in the data that may alert the reader to an "out of standard situation". The Line graph can be used to show progression of an idea, countermeasure or solution implementation that is progressing in different stages. The X and Y axis of the bar graph can be interchangable depending upon your data. Many instances you see the months of a year across the bottom X axis.
Pie Chart is a useful tool in showing contributions of each particular component as it pertains to the whole. A pie chart is also kin to the pareto chart. Instead of the accumulative line graph attached its accumulating the space taken up within the circumference of a circle in the form of angles. So you are accumulating the angle degree of each as it contributes to the full 360 degrees of the complete circle. If you were drawing a pie chart and wanted to ensure accuracy you would need a protractor. 8).
Pareto Chart is a useful tool that allows the reader to select the focus item first on the bar graph. A pareto is known for its descending order format, and a line accumulation showing how each of the problems contribute toward 100% of all the problems. See the visual below.

Notice the last bar is a little higher than the next to last. Why is this? A typical pareto will show a misc. or other bar at the end, which is a compilation of the "onesy and twosey's" put together. As a rule its always at the end, this way you graph isn't drawn out with many very small contributors to the problem.

Fishbone Diagram is a tool used to categorize/breakdown problems. There are 2 different types of Fishbone Diagrams:
1. Brainstorming Fishbone - shows the categories (Man , Method, Material, Machine) by brainstorming the "direct cause" of the problem only. (1 cause or 1st cause). There is no cause/effect relationship "drill down" in this version.

2. Cause and Effect Diagram - actually drills down several levels of causing through asking WHY. (5 WhY's). So each cause will ask WHY afterwards until the root cause is obtained through Go and See and Fact Based investigation. See the diagram below showing several levels of causes.

Tree Diagram is used for obtaining solutions by breaking down the problem and/or showing the relationship between purpose and means to get there. It can also be used as a cause/effect diagram similar to the fishbone above. The Tree Diagram is a very versatile tool. I've personally used it in problem breakdown (smaller pieces to the problem), cause analysis, and breaking countermeasures down (purpose/means - smaller ideas to implement from the larger) all within the same A3.
I hope this has given you a quick overview of the various A3 tools out there to be used to enhance those A3 reports. The more you use the easier they become and I promise you the reader will be 8) (happy). Until next time,
Tracey Richardson

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