There is a very important preparation you should always make before writing reports/proposals. This episode introduces how to write a business document effectively as well as A3 Report that Toyota created.
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Essential tips for writing reports and proposals.
Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.
As business people, we have many occasions to write reports, proposals and business plans. There is a common very important preparation you should always make before writing them. This preparation is to identify clearly: “Who will read your writing” and “What actions you expect from them after they read it.” Then start writing while keeping them in mind.
For example, whether you’re writing for your boss, your direct reports or investors,the way you write or expressions you use will change depending on your target audience even though it’s for the same project. Each party has different situations and different interests regarding your proposal, and the actions that you expect from them are very different.
Therefore, it’s imperative to identify clearly “Who will read your writing” and “What actions you expect from them” before writing it. It sounds very basic, but be sure to practice this. It’ll help you find great insight.
A3 Report Applications
On another topic, I do LinkedIn and I’ve seen people talk about A3 Reports very often lately.We use A3 Reports for the following applications:
1) As a report form to report your project’s progress
2) As a proposal form to get approval from your company
3) As a problem-solving tool to analyze issues that you’re facing and think of solution ideas.
A3 Report raises your people
When we hear “report”, do you think of a multiple-page report that is hard to write and read for both parties? In Toyota, everyone from newbies to executives has been required to write reports a piece of A3 sized paper. That is the origin of this name, A3 Report. The A3 size is about the same as 11 by 17 inches.
This has contributed to Toyota producing many great people. A piece of A3 paper has limited space, but that is a good thing. You cannot write extra things, only important things. To do so, you have to think and understand your own content more deeply.
Also, since the available number of characters you can use is few, you have to write your story well. Otherwise your audience cannot understand your point well, so you have to develop your writing skill. That’s Toyota’s aim – to cultivate their employees’ abilities by requiring the use of the A3 Report for all of them.
Toyota’s Strength and Influence
The reader side also benefits from this: they can understand your contents in no time. Toyota has monthly new-car progress meetings and each time about 50 A3 Reports are submitted and discussed. All meeting participants read and understand the subject matter quickly. They can spend their time on only the important points for discussions and making decisions.
Indeed, this is Toyota. Their meeting method has no waste and is very efficient. They also improve their employees’ abilities at the same time.
Additionally, they’ve expanded and shared their best practices such as this A3 Report with us. Their A3 Report method has been utilized more in the US than in Japan.
I made this A3 Report template for you. I’ll share the template with you in the next episode.
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