Friday, November 9, 2012

Lean Quote: A Lack of A Problem Solving Process Means More Problems

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.

"Problems breed problems, and the lack of a disciplined method of openly attacking them breeds more problems." — Philip Crosby

We are all faced with problems to solve in our workday. There are many problem-solving methods, and the six-step method is just one of them. The problem for most people is that they do not use one process to solve problems and issues or to make decisions. Another problem is that people are not consistent in how they solve problems. They do not find something that works and then do it the same way over and over to be successful. 

The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process is described below: 

Step 1: Identify The Problem 
  • Select the problem to be analyzed 
  • Clearly define the problem and establish a precise problem statement 
  • Set a measurable goal for the problem solving effort 
  • Establish a process for coordinating with and gaining approval of leadership 

Step 2: Analyze The Problem 
  • Identify the processes that impact the problem and select one 
  • List the steps in the process as it currently exists 
  • Map the Process 
  • Validate the map of the process Identify potential cause of the problem 
  • Collect and analyze data related to the problem 
  • Verify or revise the original problem statement Identify root causes of the problem 
  • Collect additional data if needed to verify root causes 

Step 3: Develop The Solutions 
  • Establish criteria for selecting a solution 
  • Generate potential solutions that will address the root causes of the problem
  • Select a solution 
  • Gain approval and supporter the chosen solution 
  • Plan the solution 

Step 4: Implement A Solution 
  • Implement the chosen solution on a trial or pilot basis 
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used in conjunction with the Continuous Improvement Process, return to Step 6 of the Continuous Improvement Process 
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used as a standalone, continue to Step 5 

Step 5: Evaluate The Results 
  • Gather data on the solution 
  • Analyze the data on the solution 
  • Archive the desired results?
    • If YES, go to Step 6. 
    • If NO, go back to Step 1. 

Step 6: Standardize The Solution (and Capitalize on New Opportunities) 
  • Identify systemic changes and training needs for full implementation 
  • Adopt the solution
  • Plan ongoing monitoring of the solution
  • Continue to look for incremental improvements to refine the solution 
  • Look for another improvement opportunity 

The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process is an easy approach to dealing with issues and problems that you face. It is a systematic way to approach a problem with clearly defined steps so that an individual or team doesn’t get bogged down in, “WHAT DO WE DO NEXT?”

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