Wednesday, November 15, 2017
- The Seven Steps of Problem Solving
- Select the issue.
- Search for data to describe the situation.
- Analyze the facts to obtain root cause(s) of the performance gap.
- Select a solution.
- Conduct a pilot test.
- Evaluate performance.
- Standardize the gains, reflect, and repeat the process.
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- 6.4 Lean Processes
- 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
- 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
- 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
- Review Questions
- Discussion Questions
- Case Questions
- Suggested Resources
- 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
- 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
- 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
- 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
- 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
- 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
- 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
- 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
- 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
- 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
- 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
- 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
- 5.3 Competitive Analysis
- 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
- 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
- 6.3 Design Thinking
- 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
- 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
- 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
- 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
- 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
- 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
- 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
- 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
- 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
- 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
- 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
- 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
- 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
- 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
- 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
- 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
- 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
- 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
- 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
- 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
- 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
- 11.2 Designing the Business Model
- 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
- 11.4 The Business Plan
- 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
- 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
- 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
- 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
- 13.2 Corporations
- 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
- 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
- 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
- 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
- 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
- 14.1 Types of Resources
- 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
- 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
- 15.1 Launching Your Venture
- 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
- 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
- 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
- 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
- A | Suggested Resources
Portions of the material in this section are based on original work by Geoffrey Graybeal and produced with support from the Rebus Community. The original is freely available under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license at https://press.rebus.community/media-innovation-and-entrepreneurship/.
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Discuss the lean process methodology
- Understand the phases of the lean problem-solving process.
You have learned about different problem-solving approaches that entrepreneurs take to lead their startups and work with others. Most of these approaches have had to do with the entrepreneur’s cognitive or creative mindsets. Now we will learn about an approach that is more rooted in process, called lean process . Lean problem solving has been used as an entrepreneurial methodology in new and emerging ventures, and it’s interesting that it comes from a large corporate, manufacturing background that focuses on efficiencies. The Six Sigma methodology, pioneered at Motorola in the 1970s and 1980s, and adopted by many companies, is a disciplined, data-driven approach that provides companies tools to improve the capability of their business processes. According to the American Society for Quality, “Six Sigma views all work as processes that can be defined, measured, analyzed, improved and controlled. A set of qualitative and quantitative tools is used to drive process improvement. This increase in performance and decrease in process variation helps lead to defect reduction and improvement in profits, employee morale, and quality of products or services.” 26 GE copied it and created the “ Process Excellence ” programs that millions of managers and others have taken to get certified at various “belts.” Although Six Sigma and Process Excellence do not fit strictly in terms of entrepreneurship, as they are used mainly by large, mature companies, many of the methods fit in the lean model.
Toyota pioneered the lean process in the 1980s. The term “ lean manufacturing ” is the most common, but it is much more than manufacturing. The lean process is a systematic method for the maximizing of continuous improvement and the minimization of surplus or unused material in the production of a process. The entrepreneur begins the startup with a sense the original product will be the product carrying the organization to success in the long term. In most cases, the good or service will require modification to maintain a process, technology, or up-to-date product offering. Lean problem solving means the entrepreneur’s entire team scans both the company’s internal and external environments for continuous improvement and methods for bringing additional revenue to the startup by cost improvement processes that promote sustainable value. The external environment encompasses customers, industry trends, and competition. The internal environment comprises the factors inside the enterprise, such as employees, and internal practices and processes. In lean manufacturing, for example, improving efficiencies in the internal environment should lead to advantages in the external environment (whether that be cost savings to customers, competitive advantage from more output/superior product, etc.).
For example, every mile saved per day per UPS truck driver results in approximately $50 million in savings per year, according to Juan Perez, the company’s chief information and engineering officer. Using customer data and artificial intelligence, the company created a system dubbed ORION, which is an acronym for On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation. 27 To date, the system has resulted in $400 million in savings to UPS. By applying the lean process, everything that UPS saves on the input (by reducing mileage) leads to savings on the output, which leads faster deliveries, lower costs for consumers, and more profit for UPS.
Lean Problem-Solving Process
The lean problem-solving process is a cycle of observation, assessment, and continual evaluation. As shown in Table 6.1 , this cycle typically involves eight specific steps.
Are You Ready?
Too much too late.
Many entrepreneurs create a startup with an idea that they develop without any feedback from potential customers, relying on their own knowledge or assumptions about the market. Consider the story of Rapid SOS: https://hbr.org/2018/05/do-entrepreneurs-need-a-strategy. What would most likely happen when they decided to go forward with their product? Will it be a fit to the customer’s needs or solve their problems? How is lean process different from this?
Lean Problem-Solving Phases
Observation is the phase in which the entrepreneur studies the challenge and notes all facets of the challenge requiring solution. In this phase, the entrepreneur asks questions and conducts research about the change needed for a successful product, outcome, or service. The entrepreneurs must determine why the change is needed. What is the purpose of the endeavor? Feedback is extremely important in this phase.
For example, a community asked a group of entrepreneurs to help address the youth obesity problem in a middle school. The entrepreneurs began to study the intake of food by the children and determined that both the content of the school lunch menu and the lifestyle of the majority of the children were affecting the obesity rate in the community. They then defined the purpose of the project as finding a low-cost, low-risk method of changing the lunch menu and agreed that the primary outcome would be a 30 percent reduction in the obesity rate of the children. The entrepreneurs began to assess the cost of changing the lunch menu and observing what else the kids ate. The entrepreneurs discovered that the lunch menu change required to reduce the obesity rate was beyond the financial capability of the school district. Research also showed that many of the children, products of single-parent homes, were eating high-calorie, high-fat, take-out foods for dinner. Further observation revealed that the children did not engage in physical activity after hours because the local surroundings were not safe. The community needed a process to transform the wellness of the children, and the entrepreneurs recommended using a lean process approach to help the children as quickly as possible.
After the observation of the problem comes assessment , the phase in which the entrepreneur experiments and analyzes the potential process and its capabilities. The entrepreneur leverages creative tools and resources to arrive at a solution and assesses each step of a possible solution. Each step must add value to the solution, or that step in the solution is unnecessary. In addition, the step must be capable of solving the issue and add flexibility to the solution. How is the process or product being improved? In this phase, a prototype of the product is developed and delivered. The entrepreneur must ask the customer if all needs and wants are satisfied with the prototype. If the prototype is being developed for mass production, surveying customers about potential sales is essential. In the school lunch example, the school system would have been the customer of the new food menu (prototype) in the assessment phase.
Evaluation is the phase in which behaviors are analyzed to assess success. The entrepreneur continually studies each phase of the solution to observe the effectiveness of outcomes desired by the client. The entrepreneur ensures that transformation is built into the habits of the school to obtain, maintain, and develop the desired outcomes.
In a real-world example of a company applying lean processes, the New Balance Company , which designs and manufactures both athletic and casual shoes, used a batching approach in the early 2000s that organized production by departments, so that all of the cutting took place in one department, all of the stitching took place in another, and so forth. While it seems that batching tasks would improve efficiency, at New Balance, it meant that production of one pair of shoes took nine days. Executives observed piles of inventory sitting between floors and departments, and noticed employees waiting while there were delays in the production line. They also noticed that the pay structure contributed to the piles of works in process because employees were paid by the piece, which encouraged them to produce as much as possible.
The company applied lean principles to rearrange the production floor by value streams, or the making of a product by sharing similar processing steps. On one side was “cut and stitch” products using US materials of leather and mesh, while another side used premade products from overseas for soles, inserts, and kits. This change cut the time to make a pair of shoes down to four hours, meaning that domestic plants could ship some orders in twenty-four hours, while competitors may need as much as 121 days to ship when they outsourced manufacturing to Asia.
An often-used lean problem-solving tool is whiteboarding ( Figure 6.16 ). Whiteboarding is a type of graphing that permits the entrepreneur to plot each step in a process to build comprehension and detailing of the process. The entrepreneur draws each step on the whiteboard using a linking-type diagram, and draws arrows to show how processes affect other processes. Seeing the flow of the process allows the entrepreneur to note where functions in the process are duplicated or inconsistent.
For example, in a community garden, storing tools, such as hoes and hand trowels for weeding, in different sheds wastes time when preparing to begin the process of weeding. These tools should be stored collectively to eliminate multiple trips and wasted time. Seeing the process on a whiteboard or other medium brings awareness to how processes can be improved. After the process is changed, it is graphed again for further scrutiny.
Entrepreneur In Action
The origin of lean.
Would it surprise you to know the origin of lean, in modern times, is considered to be Henry Ford’s production line? Although we don’t necessarily think of the creation of automobiles as an entrepreneurial venture in today’s world, Henry Ford was truly an entrepreneur for his time when the manufacture of automobiles was just beginning. Not only did he recognize the opportunity inherent in the sale of automobiles, he recognized the need to create an efficient process for automobile production that could decrease costs and, consequently, the selling price of the vehicle. As the first entrepreneur to join the use of interchangeable parts with moving conveyance to develop fabrication processes, Ford was able to turn over inventory in a very short time; however, Ford’s process could not deliver variety. In fact, Ford was quoted as saying of the Model T’s color, “You can have any color as long as it's black.” 29 It had the fastest drying time; hence, it was the only color he used for a number of years.
The Ford system was built around one static product. In the 1930s, when the market demanded product variety, the company was not set up to address this challenge. Kiichiro Toyoda ( Figure 6.17 ), the second president of Toyota Motor Corporation , visited the Ford plant in Michigan to learn more about their application of the assembly line concept. After observing, he proposed a new production system that would strive to “right size” equipment to better match tasks and the volume of work, as well as introducing quality assurance steps in each sequence of the work process. Toyoda’s approach shifted the focus from machinery to process, optimizing efficiency while maintaining quality.
- 26 American Society for Quality. “What Is Six Sigma?” n.d. https://asq.org/quality-resources/six-sigma
- 27 Juan Perez. “UPS’ Approach to Innovation and Technology.” Presentation sponsored by J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. March 28, 2019.
- 28 “Genchi Genbutsu.” Lean HE Glossary . n.d. http://www.leanhe.org/lean-he/glossary#TOC-Genchi-Genbutsu
- 29 Diana T. Kurylko. “Model T Had Many Shades; Black Dried Fastest.” Automotive News . June 16, 2003. http://www.autonews.com/article/20030616/SUB/306160713/model-t-had-many-shades%3B-black-dried-fastest
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Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
- Authors: Michael Laverty, Chris Littel
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- Book title: Entrepreneurship
- Publication date: Jan 16, 2020
- Location: Houston, Texas
- Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
- Section URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/6-4-lean-processes
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Lean Problem Solving
Lean Problem Solving is a way of approaching organizational problems that is characterized by continuous improvement and the use of proven, problem-solving methodologies.
The goals of Lean Problem Solving include:
- Identifying and solving problems in less time and achievement of measurable results
- Involving everyone in the problem solving process
- Using data and process flow to focus on a problem
- Developing practical and detailed solutions
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Lean Six Sigma: Step by Step (DMAIC Infographic)
Lean Six Sigma is simply a process for solving a problem. It consists of five phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, & Control. This process is also known as DMAIC (“duh-may-ik”), its acronym. DMAIC is a five-step method for improving existing process problems with unknown causes.
Phase 1: define.
Define the problem. What problem would you like to fix? The Define Phase is the first phase of the Lean Six Sigma improvement process. In this phase the project team creates a Project Charter, a high-level map of the process and begins to understand the needs of the customers of the process. This is a critical phase in which the team outlines the project focus for themselves and the leadership of the organization.
- Define the Problem by Developing a “Problem Statement”
- Define the Goal by Developing a “Goal Statement”
- Define the Process by Developing Process Maps
- Define the Customer and Their Requirements
- Inform Others of Project Progress
Phase 2: Measure
Quantify the problem. How does the process currently perform? Or in other words, what is the magnitude of the problem? Measurement is critical throughout the life of the project. As the team starts collecting data they focus on both the process as well as measuring what customers care about. That means initially there are two focuses: reducing lead time or improving quality. In the Measure Phase, the team refines the measurement definitions and determines the current performance or the baseline of the process.
- Determine How the Process Currently Performs
- Create a Plan to Collect the Data
- Ensure the Data is Reliable
- Gather the Baseline Data
- Update Your Project Charter
Phase 3: Analyze
Identify the cause of the problem. What is causing the problem? The Analyze Phase is often not given enough attention and, without analysis, teams jump to solutions before knowing the true root causes of the issues. The result is teams who implement solutions but don’t resolve the problem! These efforts waste time, consume resources, create more variation and, often cause new problems. The ideal is for teams to brainstorm potential root causes (not solutions), develop hypotheses as to why problems exist and then work to prove or disprove their hypotheses. Verification includes both process analysis and data analysis and has to be completed before implementing solutions. This is the crux of the Analyze Phase!
- Closely Examine the Process
- Graphically Display the Data
- Look for What Might be Causing the Problem
- Verify the Cause(s) of the Problem
Phase 4: Improve
Implement and verify the solution. How will the team mitigate the root causes of the problem? Once the project teams have determined the root causes it’s time to develop solutions. The Improve Phase is where the team brainstorms solutions, pilots process changes, implements solutions and lastly, collects data to confirm there is measurable improvement. A structured improvement effort can lead to innovative and elegant solutions that improve the baseline measure and, ultimately, the customer experience.
- Brainstorm Solutions That Might Fix the Problem
- Select the Practical Solutions
- Develop Maps of Processes Based on Different Solutions
- Select the Best Solution(s)
- Implement the Solution(s)
- Measure to Ensure Improvement
Phase 5: Control
Maintain the solution. How do you sustain the improvement? Now that the process problem is fixed and improvements are in place, the team must ensure that the process maintains the gains. In the Control Phase the team is focused on creating a Monitoring Plan to continue measuring the success of the updated process and developing a Response Plan in case there is a dip in performance. Once in place, the team hands these plans off to the Process Owner for ongoing maintenance.
- Ensure the Process Is Properly Managed and Monitored
- Document the Improved Process
- Apply Improvements to Other Areas
- Share and Celebrate Your Success
- Continuously Improve the Process Using Lean Principles
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What Are the 7 Steps To A Successful Lean Six Sigma Implementation?
- What Is Lean Management?
- The 5 Principles of Lean
- What Is Shared Leadership?
- What Is Lean Manufacturing?
- What Is Value in Lean?
- 7 Wastes of Lean
- What Is Mura?
- What Is Muri?
- What Is 5S?
- What Is the Cost of Delay?
- What Is Value Stream Mapping?
- What Is a Pull System?
- What Is a Bottleneck?
- Just-in-Time Manufacturing
- Implementing a Kanban Pull System
- Pull System on the Portfolio Level
- What Is Kaizen?
- What Is Continuous Improvement?
- Built-In Quality Management
- What Is the Poka-Yoke Technique?
- What Is Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle?
- 5 Whys: The Ultimate Root Cause Analysis Tool
- Gemba Walk: Where the Real Work Happens
- A3 Problem-Solving: Fight the Root Cause
- How To Perform Root Cause Analysis?
- Root Cause Analysis Tools
- What Is a Pareto Chart?
- What Is a Scatter Diagram?
- What Is a Fishbone Diagram?
- What Is Hoshin Kanri?
- What Is Hoshin Kanri Catchball?
- Demystifying the Hoshin Kanri X Matrix
- The Lean Transformation Model Explained
- Lean Transformation Roadmap - 8 Comprehensive Steps
- What Is Cycle Time?
- What Is Takt Time?
- What Is Heijunka?
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- Lean Six Sigma Principles
- Lean Six Sigma Tools
- Lean Six Sigma Implementation
What Is Six Sigma?
What Is DMADV?
- What Is DMAIC?
- Lean Project Management
What does a successful Lean Six Sigma implementation require? How to reduce process inefficiencies and achieve greater business performance through continuous Improvement? The Lean Six Sigma method proposes a holistic approach to improve your business performance where Lean thinking is combined with the problem-solving techniques of Six Sigma. As a result, you can identify the root cause of a problem or where you need to improve, measure your operational efforts, and introduce a new organizational culture across your company. To understand how this works, let’s go over the fundamental Lean Six Sigma implementation steps.
How to Implement Lean Six Sigma?
You need to complete seven necessary actions to identify what needs improvement to create a plan to sustain the achieved progress. Let’s go over them in more detail.
1. Get Strategic Management Support
Before embarking on the project, communicate the need for the implementation with strategic management and get their support. There should be a shared understanding of the need for Improvement and commitment to seek change actively. Implementing Lean and Six Sigma should be an integral part of the organization’s strategic goals to achieve company-wide acceptance.
2. Raise Awareness
An essential prerequisite to successfully implementing the LSS method is to have all necessary resources and knowledge are at your disposal. Ensure that you can train the methodology to the designated employees for the roles of Yellow Belt, Green Belt, or a Black Belt. In addition, you may need to hire external consultants and mentors to help you spread the Lean and Six Sigma ways to achieve greater performance.
3. Establish Ownership
By identifying who is responsible for the entire implementation initiative, you will create a sense of accountability and engagement. The Lean Six Sigma Champion or the LSS team plays a crucial role in leading the implementation and showing how the undergoing change would add value to the work.
4. Define What Value Is
As one of the leading Lean Six Sigma principles states, the focus of all activities is on what creates value for the customer. Therefore, you need to specify what “value” means for your clients. Once you determine the customer value, match it against your system in place to identify improvement areas.
5. Set Priorities
A Lean Six Sigma team steps in to create an action plan to tackle the incorporation in compliance with the customers’ expectations. The plan should support several key points:
- Ensure that the Lean Six Sigma implementation efforts align with the strategic goals.
- Assess the project risk, including ROI, resources, time, etc.
- Establish clear measurement performance indicators.
- Determine critical-to-quality (CTQs) criteria.
6. Gather Measurement Data
During this phase of the LSS cycle, you need to gather as much data about the particular problem. Then, you can utilize various problem-solving techniques to help you measure the problem in its entirety. For instance, the Value Stream Mapping technique will allow you to identify problematic stages of your workflow and show all non-value-adding activities in it. Employing the Pareto Chart analysis tool, on the other hand, will help you to categorize the root causes of the problem and detect their distribution frequency. Thus, you can narrow down your improvement efforts into specific domains. A successful LSS implementation will allow you to make data-informed decisions which would be impossible without a well-defined measurement system in place. For instance, you can measure your process performance through indicators such as eliminating process inefficiencies or reducing the time to complete a project.
7. Establish Control to Sustain Improvement
Committing to improving and sustaining the achieved Improvement is crucial for the entire Lean Six Sigma implementation initiative. To help you sustain the achievements and keep a continuous improvement trend, create an environment where people can learn, share knowledge, and be up-to-date with the market trends. Furthermore, by facilitating communication across teams and departments, you will encourage collaboration and thus, maintain the continuous improvement flow. Depending on your specific context, you may need to closely monitor your workflow, use a control technique to manage the change, establish teams dedicated to acting upon “emerging” issues so the workflow is not disrupted, etc.
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The adoption of the Lean Six Sigma approach tackles both waste reduction and problems’ root causes simultaneously. While the methodology incorporation depends on the business context, the cycle includes the following seven key steps: Step 1: Get Strategic Management Support - Communicate the need for the implementation. Step 2: Raise Awareness - Ensure you have all the required knowledge and resources. Step 3: Establish Ownership - Identify who is responsible for the entire implementation project. Step 4: Define What Value Is - Determine what creates value for your customers. Step 5: Set Priorities - Prioritize activities in line with the strategic goals. Step 6: Gather Measurement Data - Map the operations activities and identify inefficiencies. Step 7: Establish Control to Sustain Improvement - Sustain improvement and control over the future processes.
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Step 1: Define the Problem
- What is the problem?
- How did you discover the problem?
- When did the problem start and how long has this problem been going on?
- Is there enough data available to contain the problem and prevent it from getting passed to the next process step? If yes, contain the problem.
Step 2: Clarify the Problem
- What data is available or needed to help clarify, or fully understand the problem?
- Is it a top priority to resolve the problem at this point in time?
- Are additional resources required to clarify the problem? If yes, elevate the problem to your leader to help locate the right resources and form a team.
- Consider a Lean Event (Do-it, Burst, RPI, Project).
- ∙Ensure the problem is contained and does not get passed to the next process step.
Step 3: Define the Goals
- What is your end goal or desired future state?
- What will you accomplish if you fix this problem?
- What is the desired timeline for solving this problem?
Step 4: Identify Root Cause of the Problem
- Identify possible causes of the problem.
- Prioritize possible root causes of the problem.
- What information or data is there to validate the root cause?
Step 5: Develop Action Plan
- Generate a list of actions required to address the root cause and prevent problem from getting to others.
- Assign an owner and timeline to each action.
- Status actions to ensure completion.
Step 6: Execute Action Plan
- Implement action plan to address the root cause.
- Verify actions are completed.
Step 7: Evaluate the Results
- Monitor and Collect Data.
- Did you meet your goals defined in step 3? If not, repeat the 8-Step Process.
- Were there any unforeseen consequences?
- If problem is resolved, remove activities that were added previously to contain the problem.
Step 8: Continuously Improve
- Look for additional opportunities to implement solution.
- Ensure problem will not come back and communicate lessons learned.
- If needed, repeat the 8-Step Problem Solving Process to drive further improvements.
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Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)
Lean problem solving, with the help of: kentucky manufacturing extension partnership (ky-mep), the challenge.
AKA and their Problem Solving A3 offering enabled our staff to learn the 7 Step Method and organize their Problem Solving into a one page report. Armed with a standard process, six teams worked on different metrics and issues to uncover potential actions for improving. — Richard Field , President
Richard Field enlisted the Advantage Kentucky Alliance, part of the MEP National Network™, to provide his supervisors and staff with a tool set that would help them take a more structured approach to problem solving.
Tim Vickers led a cross-section of Post Glover’s management, engineering, purchasing, sales and manufacturing staff through Lean 101 and A3 Problem Solving training. Once there was a basic understanding of Lean and the 7 Step Problem Solving model, the group was ready to tackle real issues.
Post Glover provided a list of current company issues that they wanted addressed. This list included sheet metal utilization, purchased parts outages, RMA reduction, on-time delivery, Kanban improvement and the manufacturing to sales communication process.
Each Team met with Tim Vickers for two 4 hour sessions to work their assigned problem through each of the 7 steps. From definition to countermeasure, each team took a look at current data, collected additional data and focused on the solutions that directly related to the problem at hand as well as the root causes.
Utilizing this data they plotted line graphs and Pareto diagrams. Once a specific area of focus stood out, they brainstormed problem causes utilizing Fishbone and 5 Why diagrams. For each cause uncovered, the groups documented a correlating countermeasure and narrowed those countermeasures down through use of a weighted selection matrix.
Each team worked from 2 to 3 months on their respective problem and reported their progress to the executive management team for approvals and support to its conclusion
Master the 7-Step Problem-Solving Process for Better Decision-Making
Discover the powerful 7-Step Problem-Solving Process to make better decisions and achieve better outcomes. Master the art of problem-solving in this comprehensive guide. Download the Free PowerPoint and PDF Template.
Mastering the art of problem-solving is crucial for making better decisions. Whether you're a student, a business owner, or an employee, problem-solving skills can help you tackle complex issues and find practical solutions. The 7-Step Problem-Solving Process is a proven method that can help you approach problems systematically and efficiently.
The 7-Step Problem-Solving Process involves steps that guide you through the problem-solving process. The first step is to define the problem, followed by disaggregating the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. Next, you prioritize the features and create a work plan to address each. Then, you analyze each piece, synthesize the information, and communicate your findings to others.
By following this process, you can avoid jumping to conclusions, overlooking important details, or making hasty decisions. Instead, you can approach problems with a clear and structured mindset, which can help you make better decisions and achieve better outcomes.
In this article, we'll explore each step of the 7-Step Problem-Solving Process in detail so you can start mastering this valuable skill. At the end of the blog post, you can download the process's free PowerPoint and PDF templates .
Step 1: Define the Problem
The first step in the problem-solving process is to define the problem. This step is crucial because if the problem is not clearly defined, finding a solution won't be easy. The problem must be defined in a specific, measurable, and achievable way.
One way to define the problem is to ask the right questions. Questions like "What is the problem?" and "What are the causes of the problem?" can help to define the problem. It is also essential to gather data and information about the problem to assist in the definition process.
Another critical aspect of defining the problem is to identify the stakeholders. Who is affected by the problem? Who has a stake in finding a solution? Identifying the stakeholders can help ensure that the problem is defined in a way that considers the needs and concerns of all those affected by the problem.
Once the problem is defined, it is essential to communicate the definition to all stakeholders. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a shared understanding of the problem.
Step 2: Disaggregate
After defining the problem, the next step in the 7-step problem-solving process is to disaggregate the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. Disaggregation helps break down the problem into smaller pieces that can be analyzed individually. This step is crucial in understanding the root cause of the problem and identifying the most effective solutions.
Disaggregation can be achieved by breaking down the problem into sub-problems, identifying the factors contributing to the problem, and analyzing the relationships between these factors. This step helps identify the most critical factors that must be addressed to solve the problem.
One effective way to disaggregate a problem is using a tree or fishbone diagram. These diagrams help identify the different factors contributing to the problem and how they are related. Another way is to use a table to list the other factors contributing to the problem and their corresponding impact on the problem.
Disaggregation helps in breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts. It helps understand the relationships between different factors contributing to the problem and identify the most critical factors that must be addressed. By disaggregating the problem, decision-makers can focus on the most vital areas, leading to more effective solutions.
Step 3: Prioritize
After defining the problem and disaggregating it into smaller parts, the next step in the 7-step problem-solving process is prioritizing the issues that need addressing. Prioritizing helps to focus on the most pressing issues and allocate resources more effectively.
There are several ways to prioritize issues, including:
- Urgency: Prioritize issues based on how urgent they are. Problems that require immediate attention should be dealt with first.
- Impact: Prioritize issues based on their impact on the organization or stakeholders. Problems that have a high effect should be given priority.
- Resources: Prioritize issues based on the resources required to address them. Problems that require fewer resources should be dealt with first.
It is important to involve stakeholders in the prioritization process to consider their concerns and needs. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or other forms of engagement.
Once the issues have been prioritized, developing a plan of action to address them is essential. This involves identifying the resources required, setting timelines, and assigning responsibilities.
Prioritizing issues is a critical step in the problem-solving process. Organizations can allocate resources more effectively and make better decisions by focusing on the most pressing issues.
Step 4: Workplan
After defining the problem, disaggregating, and prioritizing the issues, the next step in the 7-step problem-solving process is to develop a work plan. This step involves creating a roadmap that outlines the steps needed to solve the problem.
The work plan should include a list of tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities for each team member involved in the problem-solving process. Assigning tasks based on each team member's strengths and expertise ensures the work is completed efficiently and effectively.
Creating a work plan can help keep the team on track and ensure everyone is working towards the same goal. It can also help to identify potential roadblocks or challenges that may arise during the problem-solving process and develop contingency plans to address them.
Several tools and techniques can be used to develop a work plan, including Gantt charts, flowcharts, and mind maps. These tools can help to visualize the steps needed to solve the problem and identify dependencies between tasks.
Developing a work plan is a critical step in the problem-solving process. It provides a clear roadmap for solving the problem and ensures everyone involved is aligned and working towards the same goal.
Step 5: Analysis
Once the problem has been defined and disaggregated, the next step is to analyze the information gathered. This step involves examining the data, identifying patterns, and determining the root cause of the problem.
Several methods can be used during the analysis phase, including:
- Root cause analysis
- Pareto analysis
- SWOT analysis
Root cause analysis is a popular method used to identify the underlying cause of a problem. This method involves asking a series of "why" questions to get to the root cause of the issue.
Pareto analysis is another method that can be used during the analysis phase. This method involves identifying the 20% of causes responsible for 80% of the problems. By focusing on these critical causes, organizations can make significant improvements.
Finally, SWOT analysis is a valuable tool for analyzing the internal and external factors that may impact the problem. This method involves identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to the issue.
Overall, the analysis phase is critical for identifying the root cause of the problem and developing practical solutions. Organizations can gain a deeper understanding of the issue and make informed decisions by using a combination of methods.
Step 6: Synthesize
Once the analysis phase is complete, it is time to synthesize the information gathered to arrive at a solution. During this step, the focus is on identifying the most viable solution that addresses the problem. This involves examining the analysis results and combining them to lead to a clear and concise conclusion.
One way to synthesize the information is to use a decision matrix. This involves creating a table that lists the potential solutions and the essential criteria in making a decision. Each answer is then rated against each standard, and the scores are tallied to arrive at a final decision.
Another approach to synthesizing the information is to use a mind map. This involves creating a visual representation of the problem and the potential solutions. The mind map can identify the relationships between the different pieces of information andhelp prioritize the solutions.
During the synthesis phase, remaining open-minded and considering all potential solutions is vital. It is also essential to involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process to ensure that everyone's perspectives are considered.
Step 7: Communicate
After synthesizing the information, the next step is communicating the findings to the relevant stakeholders. This is a crucial step because it helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the decision-making process is transparent.
One effective way to communicate the findings is through a well-organized report. The report should include the problem statement, the analysis, the synthesis, and the recommended solution. It should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.
In addition to the report, it is also essential to have a presentation that explains the findings. The presentation should be tailored to the audience and highlight the report's key points. Visual aids such as tables, graphs, and charts can make the presentation more engaging.
During the presentation, it is essential to be open to feedback and questions from the audience. This helps ensure everyone is on board with the recommended solution and addresses any concerns or objections.
Effective communication is vital to ensuring the decision-making process is successful. Stakeholders can make informed decisions and work towards a common goal by communicating the findings clearly and concisely.
The 7-step problem-solving process is a powerful tool that can help individuals and organizations make better decisions. By following these steps, individuals can identify the root cause of a problem, prioritize potential solutions, and develop a clear plan of action. This process can be applied to various scenarios, from personal challenges to complex business problems.
Individuals can break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts through disaggregation. Individuals can focus their efforts on the most impactful actions by prioritizing potential solutions. The work step allows individuals to develop a clear action plan, while the analysis step provides a framework for evaluating possible solutions.
The synthesis step is where individuals combine all the information they have gathered to develop a comprehensive solution. Finally, the communication step allows individuals to share their answers with others and gather feedback.
By mastering the 7-step problem-solving process, individuals can become more effective decision-makers and problem-solvers. This process can help individuals and organizations save time and resources while improving outcomes. With practice, individuals can develop the skills to apply this process to a wide range of scenarios and make better decisions in all areas of life.
7-Step Problem-Solving Process
Free powerpoint and pdf template, executive summary: the 7-step problem-solving process.
The 7-Step Problem-Solving Process is a powerful and systematic method to help individuals and organizations make better decisions by tackling complex issues and finding practical solutions. This process comprises defining the problem, disaggregating it into smaller parts, prioritizing the issues, creating a work plan, analyzing the data, synthesizing the information, and communicating the findings.
By following these steps, individuals can identify the root cause of a problem, break it down into manageable components, and prioritize the most impactful actions. The work plan, analysis, and synthesis steps provide a framework for developing comprehensive solutions, while the communication step ensures transparency and stakeholder engagement.
Mastering this process can improve decision-making and problem-solving capabilities, saving time and resources and better outcomes in both personal and professional contexts.
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7-Step Problem-Solving Process PDF Template
7-step problem-solving process powerpoint template.
SWOT Analysis of Toyota: Free Templates and In-Depth Insights 2023
Gain strategic insights on Toyota with our free SWOT analysis PDF and PPT. Discover Toyota's strengths, like renowned quality and production system, and weaknesses, like lagging EV development. Identify key opportunities and threats impacting Toyota's future in the evolving auto industry.
SWOT Analysis of Volkswagen: Free Templates and In-Depth Insights 2023
Unlock the strategic insights of Volkswagen with our in-depth SWOT analysis for 2023. Discover Volkswagen's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the automotive industry. Access free, editable templates for PowerPoint and PDF now.
SWOT Analysis of Hyundai: Free Templates and In-Depth Insights 2023
Discover the workings of Hyundai Motor Company with our comprehensive SWOT analysis for 2023. Download our free PowerPoint template and gain expert insights into this automotive giant's challenges and opportunities.
SWOT Analysis of Mercedes-Benz: Free Templates and In-Depth Insights 2023
In the ever-evolving landscape of the luxury automotive industry, Mercedes-Benz continues to be a beacon of excellence and innovation. Our latest SWOT Analysis for 2023, available as a free PowerPoint download, offers a meticulous examination of the brand's current standing and future trajectory.
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Depending on the complexity of the problem, some tools are more appropriate than others. That is to say, as the complexity of the problem increases, use the relevant tools (described above in the graph) accordingly.
What are the Four Lean Tools for Simple Problem Solving?
The most basic and first of four lean tools for simple problem solving is 5G. Also known as the 5 Gen Methodology or the 5 Gen principle, 5G is a popular Japanese problem-solving method used for improving various manufacturing activities. That is to say, it is a tool that describes a loss phenomenon that can be related to safety, quality, parts shortage, etc. 5G is made up of five Japanese words that all start with the letter “G”: Gemba, Gembutsu, Genjitsu, Genri, and Gensoku.
The 5G Procedure
5W1H is the second of four lean tools for simple problem solving. Essentially, it helps contribute to the resolution of a problem by answering existing questions and triggering ideas.
The 5W1H questions are:
- 1. Who — this refers to a specific person or group of people who are relevant to the problem or situation. For example, this can include who identified the problem, who can potentially solve the problem, and who will be responsible for implementing the solution.
- 2. What — when answering what, you should describe the situation and problem in detail. If possible, you should also identify the overall goal for implementing the determined solution.
- 3. Where — for the where , state the exact location, area, or position of the identified problem. For example, this can be at a specific pillar or machine.
- 4. When — the when should include anything related to the problem that has to do with dates. For example, the timeline, deadline, duration, or any other date-related details that can help solve the identified problem.
- 5. Why — this is the most important element of the 5W1H method. The why details the reason and objectives for why action needs to be taken or why there’s a need to use the 5W1H method. Additionally, this last W is usually asked five times to discover the root cause of the problem and to prevent it from happening again — this approach is better known as the 5 Whys analysis.
- 6. How — for the how , specify the steps necessary to implement the solution to solve the problem. This includes all the tools, resources, methods, and even expenses needed to carry out the plan.
4M1D, or also known as the 4M1D fishbone diagram, is the third of four lean tools for simple problem solving. In short, this is a fairly universal tool used to identify as many potential causes for a problem as possible. Moreover, it can be used to structure a brainstorming session and immediately sorts significant contributors into useful categories. The major categories of the 4M1D fishbone diagram are material, method, machine, man, and design. However, other “M’s” that may have an impact include management, money, and maintenance. In essence, the 4M1D fishbone diagram can be adjusted based on the needs of the identified problem. 4M1D is similar to the 5 Ms of Lean Manufacturing .
The 4M1D Procedure
The procedure for conducting the 4M1D fishbone diagram is usually done with pen and paper, or on a whiteboard, and are as follows:
- 1. Identify a specific problem (in as little as 3-5 words) then write it at the centre right of your paper or whiteboard. Draw a box around it and then starting from the left side of the box, draw a horizontal line running across to the centre left of the page.
- 2. Brainstorm and determine the major categories that may have an impact on the identified problem. Then write each category as branches from the main horizontal line running across the paper or whiteboard.
- 3. Brainstorm and identify all the possible causes for the specified problem and ask, “why does this happen?” As each idea is given, the leader of this analysis writes it as a branch from the relevant category. It is important to note that possible causes can be placed in more than one category.
- 4. Again, ask “why does this happen?” for each cause that is written down and write down sub-causes that branch off from the main cause. Continue doing this to create a deeper understanding of the causes — the layers of branches represent causal relationships.
The primary goal of the 5 Whys analysis is to find the root cause of a given problem by asking a series of “why” questions five times. However, in some cases, it may take more or fewer whys, depending on the complexity of the root cause.
The 5 Whys analysis is the final of four lean tools for simple problem solving and it is one of the most powerful assessment tool of all non-statistical analyses. In short, by using this analysis, you’ll be able to identify the root cause of the problem and understand the underlying cause and effect of the identified problem.
The 5 Whys Procedure
Listed below are the steps you should follow to complete the 5 Whys analysis:
- 1. Start by identifying a specific problem — what is it that you are having difficulties with? Jot this down somewhere. For example, on a piece of paper.
- 2. Ask why this problem has occurred and write the answer below the identified problem.
- 3. Continuously ask “why” to each of the successive answers you write down until you arrive at and determine the root cause of the problem.
To reiterate, again, the 5 Whys analysis may take more or fewer than 5 whys to determine the root cause. Additionally, it is important to ensure that all team members collaborating on the 5 Whys analysis agree with each of the questions being answers, as well as the root cause of the problem.
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Unlocking the Secrets of Problem-Solving: The 8-Step Path to Success
Problem-solving is an essential skill that enables us to navigate through the challenges that life throws at us. When faced with problems, we often feel overwhelmed and struggle to find effective solutions. But what if there was a step-by-step guide that could help us overcome these obstacles with ease?
Today, we will discuss an 8-step problem-solving process, as illustrated in the image from the Lean Enterprise Academy. This image provides a comprehensive framework for approaching problems systematically and structured, ensuring success in tackling even the most complex issues.
Step 1: Clarify the Problem
The first step in problem-solving is to clarify the problem. It involves identifying the issue, understanding its scope, and defining the problem statement. This step sets the foundation for the entire process, ensuring that everyone involved clearly understands the problem.
Step 2: Break Down the Problem
Once the problem has been clarified, it’s time to break it into smaller, more manageable components. By analyzing the problem and understanding its root causes, you can develop a deeper understanding of the issue and generate insights to guide the next steps.
Step 3: Set a Target
Setting a target involves establishing a clear, achievable goal for solving the problem. This step helps to provide direction, motivate the team, and create a benchmark for measuring progress.
Step 4: Analyze the Root Cause
Now that you understand the problem and its components, it’s time to analyze the root cause. By identifying the underlying factors contributing to the problem, you can address them directly and develop a more effective solution.
Step 5: Develop Countermeasures
With the root cause analysis complete, it’s time to develop countermeasures that address the identified issues. These countermeasures should be based on the insights gained during the analysis and tailored to effectively address the problem at hand.
Step 6: See Countermeasures Through
Once the countermeasures have been developed, it’s time to implement them. This step involves implementing the proposed solutions and closely monitoring their progress to ensure they are effectively addressing the problem.
Step 7: Monitor Results and Process
After implementing the countermeasures, monitoring the results and evaluating their effectiveness is crucial. By collecting data and analyzing the impact of your solutions, you can determine whether the problem has been resolved or if further action is needed.
Step 8: Standardize and Share Success
Once the problem has been successfully addressed, it’s essential to standardize the processes and solutions that led to success. This step ensures that the lessons learned are applied to future problem-solving efforts and that successful methods are shared with others who may face similar challenges.
An 8-step problem-solving process is a powerful tool for overcoming daily challenges. By following these steps, you can tackle problems more effectively and build a culture of continuous improvement and learning within your organization. Start applying this process today and unlock the secrets of problem-solving success.
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Home > Learn Lean > Learn 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving
Learn 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving
What is 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving?
4 Step Rapid Problem Solving (RPS) is a problem-solving process used by individuals and the leaders of teams to solve small to medium-sized business and operational problems quickly. Learn about the 4-step process, including defining the problem – concern, containing it, finding the root cause(s), and fixing the problem, with countermeasures and confirming they worked.
Discover also how to document these activities on a Quadrant Chart for efficient communication. Improve your problem-solving skills and achieve better outcomes with this logical and effective process. 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving (RPS) can help you solve problems quickly and efficiently.
4 Step Rapid Problem Solving – Skill Level 1: Knowledge
This is a FREE self-paced 1 hour course that is hosted on our online Learning Platform. By completing this course you will gain the basic Purpose, Process and People knowledge about 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving.
4 Step Rapid Problem Solving (Manufacturing) – Skill Level 2: Understanding
This Skill Level 2: Understanding Manufacturing course is hosted on our online Learning Platform. It provides a deeper Understanding about the 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving (RPS) method.
4 Step Rapid Problem Solving (Non-Manufacturing) – Skill Level 2: Understanding
This Skill Level 2: Understanding Non-Manufacturing course is hosted on our online Learning Platform. It provides a deeper Understanding about the 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving (RPS) method.
4 Step Rapid Problem Solving – Skill Level 3: Capable
This Skill Level 3: Capable course is hosted on our online Learning Platform. It will help you become capable to teach and coach others the 4 step method.
4 Step Rapid Problem Solving – Skill Level 4: Teach & Coach Others
This is an on-the-job coached course where a Senior Lean Coach will help you teach and coach others in 4 Step Rapid Problem Solving. Available online or face-to-face.
Want to access all our online courses and webinars all in one place? Starting at just £99.99+VAT/year, our Learning Platform Subscription provides all current and future materials developed by the Lean Enterprise Academy. Click on the subscription logo to find out more information.
Rapid Problem Solving: On-Demand Webinar
This is a video recording of our Rapid Problem Solving webinar. Included is access to a video of the webinar, a copy of the presentation slides, a transcript of the webinar, our Rapid Problem Solving Teach Poster and supporting facilitation guide and the materials from the evaluation exercise presented during the webinar.