Using Toyota's A3 Thinking for Analyzing MBA Business Cases

Joe S. Anderson, James N. Morgan, Susan K. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A3 Thinking is fundamental to Toyota's benchmark management philosophy and to their lean production system. It is used to solve problems, gain agreement, mentor team members, and lead organizational improvements. A structured problem-solving approach, A3 Thinking builds improvement opportunities through experience. We used The Toyota Way to introduce these concepts and practices and we incorporated A3 Thinking into the case analysis dimension of our functionally integrated MBA class, Managing People and Processes. Results of A3 Thinking were communicated by the A3 report, using a single 11" by 17" sheet of paper. We surveyed students at the end of the semester, after they had created numerous A3 reports for case analysis. In addition to reinforcing A3 Thinking concepts, students and faculty found that A3 reporting added value to case analysis, class discussions, and presentations and pushed the focus of analysis into key issues and root causes often overlooked in a more intuitive approach. Emphasis on conciseness and graphics helped students improve communication and the format of the A3 reports helped instructors quickly review and evaluate the case analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-285
Number of pages11
JournalDecision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Decision Sciences (miscellaneous)


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