How can you solve the problems your organisation faces in 9 steps?

Problems that occur daily cost money, prevent the effective use of resources, and cause delays for the team and stress for team members. At Kaizen Institute, we consider each problem as an opportunity for improvement, as ignoring or avoiding the search for the solution to a problem limits the organisational process.

Know how to solve any problem in a structured 9 step way.

We characterise a problem as a gap between the current situation and our expectations.

In an increasingly dynamic entrepreneurial network, with new demands and continuous challenges, organisations remain focused on day-to-day management, bypassing problems as they arise without analysing the causes.

In situations such as these, the mistake is later repeated, which contributes to the generation of significant wastes in terms of invested time, material costs and delays to deadlines.

 

These are the most common mistakes committed by organisations when faced with a problem that impacts their internal processes:

1.       Ignoring its existence
2.       Assuming that it is normal or unsolvable
3.       Not engaging the correct people in the design and implementation of the solution
4.       Not analysing the root causes
5.       Initiating the implementation of a solution based on incorrect assumptions
6.       Initiating the implementation of a solution, but not seeing it through to completion
7.       Not considering a priority above other daily tasks

At Kaizen Institute, we implement a tool for structured problem-solving which we refer to as Kobetsu. It can be applied to any problem and within any organisational context, presenting itself in 9 key steps:

Step 1 – Clarify context and goal: Answers the question “What are the difficulties?” and aims to define the context of the problem to be solved by the team.

Step 2 – Observe initial situation: Characterises the initial situation based on information collected at the Gemba (or shop floor) that properly defines the problem. As further analysis, there should be demonstrative indicators and Pareto’s Diagram.

Step 3 – Define ideal situation: Defines the future ideal situation through design of a goal. A goal should exhibit SMART characteristics; in other words, be Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. When short-sighted or unreasonable, goals tend to generate results below the potential of the team, and cause demotivation amongst the team members.  

Step 4 – Identify root causes: Identifies the causes that contributed to the failure in achieving what we expected to achieve, an essential step in solution design. To this end, an Ishikawa (or Cause and Effect) Diagram must be utilised – it is useful tool to provide a good reference point for brainstorming amongst team members and identifying the root cause. Another useful tool in this context is the 5 Whys analysis, that questions multiple times the why a problem occurred, in an interactive process that will also allow the analyser to find the root cause which resulted in the problem.

Step 5 – Define solutions: Designs a macro improvement vision for the problem that was characterised previously, responding to the initial goals.

Step 6 – Test solutions: Validates the success of each action in the Gemba. For each solution to be tested it is necessary to identify the person in charge, length of the test period, required resources and success/failure criteria.

Step 7 – Update action plan: Ensures that the solutions are implemented effectively and are generating results. The action plan must be built with the engagement of everyone involved in it. This should list all actions, define managers and conclusion dates, and involve frequent monitoring as the plan evolves.

Step 8 – Confirm results and standardise: Assesses the results through real data, allowing the assessor to compare the initial state with the current state, and determine the quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits. Standards are developed with new processes and teams are trained. If the goals are not reached, Step 2 must be revisited.

Step 9 – Lessons learnt and rollout:  Allows a review of the results and applied methods involved in the problem-solving process. Where applicable, the best practice must be shared and implemented by other teams and departments, allowing consistent results within the organisation.

It is important to emphasise that this KAIZEN™ tool allows us to analyse a diverse range of problems within varying contexts, as the analysis of lack of quality of a part or complaint handling. Through a structured and standardised process, the organisations are able to observe, understand and select problems in a more rapid and effective manner. The prospect of associating a failure or mistakes with an improvement opportunity, and the habit of making its resolution a priority, will allow the organisation to improve processes and receive benefits in terms of quality, cost and delivery.

 

Kaizen Institute is a multinational company that supports the design and implementation of processes that allow continuous improvement in a sustained way.

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