Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Lean Quote: Root Causes Should Make Solutions Clear

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

This weeks Lean Quote is brought to you by my friend and fellow blogger Christian Paulsen. Christian helps companies optimize performance. He is a Lean – TPM facilitator and adds value to organizations by driving continuous process improvements and bottom line cost savings. Christian is a Consultant who brings 20 years of manufacturing leadership experience and Lean Manufacturing expertise. He authors Lean Leadership and is a regular contributor to the Consumer Goods blog.

"Determination of root causes should provide a clear and obvious understanding of the necessary solutions." — Jeffrey Liker and David Meier, The Toyota Way Field book

Proper analysis of an issue’s root causes could be the most crucial part of the problem solving process.

While this seems like an obvious statement, leaders and their teams fail to dig deep enough to find the root cause all too often. Others fail to follow-up on the countermeasures. These failures have consequences:

  • Failure to identify root causes can lead to superficial solutions or Band-Aides that don’t work very long.  
  • Erroneous root causes lead to ineffective ideas that don’t impact the issue at hand. 
Failure to follow-up on your countermeasures can lead to several issues as well. The countermeasures may not be working as intended or there could be unintended negative consequences. You could also be missing out on an opportunity to further improve your process if you don’t follow through in the spirit of Deming’s PDCA.

Finding the true root causes of an issue allows your team to identify true countermeasures that are in their control and are positively effective. Teams that are capable of identifying the true root causes of and issue are normally able to identify effective countermeasures for that issue.

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