Solving the right problems with Lean

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Problems.  We all have to face them and deal with them.  How you solve them often depends on using the right methodology.

Everyone, no matter where you work, what you do or who you do it for, has to deal with problems. From broken down machinery to supply chain faults and unhappy customers, problems come in different types and levels of severity, and, if old wives are to be believed, threes.

The problems you face in your business are not how you are measured however – it’s how you deal with them and the results that you get that matter. At the EEF Lean Academy, we train delegates to deal with problems as part of the process of continuous improvement. By having the right tools, processes and solutions in place you can identify problems early and ensure that they are dealt with – permanently. Tweet this

Problem solving processes

Having a well-known and well understood process for problem solving is the cornerstone of any sound plan. Problem solving, as much as it is practical, is also a cultural issue. Developing a culture of problem solving is needed to create an internal community of thinkers who work together to address issues. Techniques such as A3 and 8D are designed as sustainable, rigorous problem-solving processes that have been developed, in effect, to provide an experimental test of the changes you propose. 

Whichever process you choose for solving problems – and there are a few – there is no substitute for good problem solving strategies, standardised work, visual management and a bit of good, old-fashioned ‘go and see’ diagnosis. It might sound simple to some and obvious to many, but ‘go and see’ is a key component of the problem solving process.

Use a robust and well understood tool

Having the right tool for the job is essential. Lean is not short of tools that can support you through the problem solving process. EEF Lean Academy delegates are quickly armed with a range of tools, like:

• Process Flow Diagram
• Pareto
• C&E diagram
• 5 Why’s
• Control charts
• Inspection reports
• Process data
• KPIs

Whichever tool is best for the problem that you are solving, make sure that you’re consistent in its implementation. Skipping through tools, or leaving out essential one altogether may mean that you mean the route-cause of your problem in the first place.

Solve the problem…permanently

Lean is not about the application of sticking plasters and temporary fixes. You are looking for permanent solutions. Your problems should be dealt with, forever. 

As a Lean practitioner, you are not sitting around looking for solutions, you are looking for problems. You are looking for areas of the business to improve and make permanently better.  Bring your teams together and have them work collectively to address the problems that you identify. Ensure that your communication networks remain open, fluid and clear.

As with the problem solving tools, there are many tools in the Lean Practitioners’ armoury. Use:

• SOPs
• 5S
• Inspection regime
• Poka-Yoke
• Process control
• TPM
• Systems solutions
• Training

Each of these can be applied to your team to ensure that the problems that you have identified are solved and solved permanently.

EEF Training’s Lean Academy has been designed specifically to train delegates on the skill of problem identification and resolution. Through our dedicated training centre and real-world problem solving examples, delegates learn how to identify problems and implement solutions. EEF’s delegates don’t work with Lego models – but real problems effecting real businesses. Our detailed training course ensures that your Lean practitioners arrive back at work ready to make a difference.

 Interested in more Lean training with EEF? Find out more about our Practical problem solving training (8D method) and our Basic failure mode effect analysis (FMEA) training

Author

This person has now left EEF. Please contact us on 0808 168 1874 or email us at enquiries@eef.org.uk if you have any questions.

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