Practical Problem Solving

Practical Problem Solving-47
There's a time and a place for simple "just do it" problem solving.

There's a time and a place for simple "just do it" problem solving.But, when we need to dig deeper, PPS is a very helpful framework that structures our thinking and our improvement mindsets.We have included a number of our favorite rockpets from the Zen garden to help support the message and hope you enjoy this fresh overview.

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Recently I was reading It almost felt trivial that this sort of framework would be invaluable to software engineers too (in fact for everyone). And finally countermeasures, evaluations, and countermeasures. Here from the direct cause, we expose and go deep to the root cause of the problem by asking WHY five times. 4th Why – Why CPU reached 100% – Because server instance size was not enough to handle increased number jobs. 5th Why – Why server size was not enough to handle the spike in usage – Because our auto-scaling is slow.

When confronted with a problem, first we want to make it crystal clear and get a grasp of the real point of cause. By asking a series of 5 whys, we can generally get to the root cause of the problem and fix it there instead of just duct-taping it and be waiting for it to rise again.

And then the use of the ‘5 whys’ , a simple tool, which is so effective in drilling down the causality chain to the true root causes.

So going through a case study to practise these steps, how did we do? And the point here is, if we, as Lean practitioners, aren’t able to problem solve in a systematic way, how can we expect to coach and lead others to do the same? 17th - 19th November 2014 Lean Transformation: Practical Next Steps - As part of our mission to help organisations with their Lean journeys we are holding the annual UK Lean Summit at Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth.

Asking what, when, where and who helps to highlight the top issue to be tackled.

It then becomes easier to set SMART targets for improvement.The mistakes are to jump in and prescribe possible direct causes to the problems without going to Gemba to confirm the facts.Here direct cause – observed causes of the problem - and root cause – the actual end cause we are trying to identify - are often confused.This step is fixing the root cause of the problem so that this doesn’t come up again. Moved to a more sophisticated auto-scaler to manage spikes in usages and setting up alerts to monitor the performance. “Now analytics are always in sync and even if they miss getting updated, we get an alert to know it beforehand and take action.” This resonates with another Toyota principle ofmeaning building in the quality.After the countermeasure have been executed, it’s important to evaluate the effect post that. How can we standardize the countermeasures such that similar problems are not faced again?If you would like more in-depth training in lean practices, you can visit our Facebook page at or even some blogs that we maintain for this important subject, like As Lean practitioners, we all know how to problem solve - don’t we? In many organisations the problem solving process is rushed, focusing on finding the quickest, easiest solution rather than the one that is the most value adding.Some refer to it as an "8-step problem solving" method.It's a shame that more people don't know about it since it's second nature to Toyota people. I had been using A3 problem solving methods for years, thinking of it in terms of the PDSA or Plan-Do-Study-Adjust model.But, when I had the chance to work with a former Toyota leader, Pascal Dennis, I was fortunate to learn this more precise 8-step model. If you've been practicing Kaizen as daily continuous improvement or "rapid improvement events" or using A3 thinking...or "doing PDSAs" or small "just do it" improvements, I think the Practical Problem Solving (PPS) methodology is an important thing to know... Sometimes, slightly different terms or words get used, but the idea is the same. Steps 1 through 5 are "Plan," and steps 6, 7, and 8 are the "Do, Study, and Adjust" phases. Before jumping into root cause analysis, we have to first make sure we understand the problem.


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