Lean Problem Solving

Lean Problem Solving-83
Introducing his new book, the author offers precious tips on problem solving. The book emphasizes the importance of looking at problems from different angles and not always getting locked into one way of viewing the situation at hand.The four types described are 1) good troubleshooting routines, 2) gap from standard deviation situations, 3) target state improvement opportunities, and 4) more open-ended or innovation-based routines.

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In most cases a combination of these will be used to solve a problem.

These are the most basic of problem solving methods and tools, and it is recommended you become familiar with these if working in the fields mentioned above.

If your organization is experiencing some trouble with problem solving or improvement, then altering your viewpoint or framework might be of some use.

I often get asked this follow-up question: “Why do you recommend these specific four types and why are they all necessary? First off, these four types are essentially the patterns I personally observed from my mentors while working inside of Toyota Japan at Kamigo Engine plant (Taiichi Ohno’s facility).

This usually involves higher degrees of lateral or divergent style creative thinking methods and you look for better solutions even when there is no problem per se.

There is a Japanese proverb that essentially states, “a fool knows one way of doing things while an expert knows many.” In other words, it is easy to force all problem-solving routines into one specific box – whether it be Toyota’s current 8-step method, Six Sigma methodologies, Triz, 8D, Kepner Tregoe, rapid Kaizen, Design Thinking, or whatever flavor you are most comfortable with.There's a lot to take in here, but following some of these methods are sure to improve your problem-solving process.However, if you really want to take problem-solving to the next level, Initiative One can come alongside your team to help you solve problems much faster than you ever have before.However, I don’t think that all problem-solving routines meet the requirements of actual science in practice.(As an aside, I worked with a national laboratory for many years on their improvement journey.Problem solving and analysis forms an integral part of continuous improvement and allows the appropriate selection of kaizen, process analysis and lean concepts not only to solve problems but to uncover hidden opportunities and areas which are under performing.Many problems presented to operations managers, engineers, consultants and lean champions will have a variety of syptoms and possible causes, but finding the exact cause is best achieved through a structured analysis process using some of the concepts and tools listed below.Once the problem has been defined and the relevant data collected, the analysis and solution decision making can be carried out by a number of different ways and employ different methods.Some of the most popular in lean and operational environments include: Brain storming Gap Analysis Employee surveys FMEA Analysis Plan Do Check Act Cycle Potential problem analysis to identify other problems or risk Fishbone diagram 5 whys Root cause analysis Pareto principle and Pareto charts Process flow charts Problem Trees None of the above concepts and methods is recommended for any particular problem; they all have certain benefits and may suit different situations.And we can, of course, just become extremely abstract or non-prescriptive and say it is all loosely science or PDCA for that matter.However, that superficial approach does not really provide much in the way of practical advice for moving forward.


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