David Verble wrote a recent article titled “What Exactly is the Problem You Are Trying to Address?” for the Lean Enterprise Institute.
In it, he addresses the idea of tackling a problem on an A3 and having a clear-cut, definable understanding of the problem before trying to solve it.
He mentions the interaction with others on your team and elsewhere, in trying to be able to explain the problem with certainty. If the problem is only assumed, the credibility of the A3 may be called into question.
Specifically, Verble thinks fact overrides assumption or inference every time:
What do you actually know about what is happening in the problem situation? The key words in that question are “actually” and “happening.” Yes, you think there is a problem but what do you actually know as fact and what are you assuming about what is occurring? It is easy for us to assume we know the conditions in a situation or what happened in an event based on previous experience or secondhand knowledge or recognizing similarities to other situations or events and seeing patterns in data or reports.
The point I get from him is that, in order to solve a problem, assumptions of what that problem is need to be removed, and a solid foundation of evidence and fact need to underscore your determination of the problem.
Only then will an A3 and problem-solving be effective and worthwhile and easily explained to others, like your boss or colleagues..