Lean manufacturing is a “more value with less waste” performance improvement system applicable to any production process – from resource intensive billion dollar manufacturing to small providers of services-for-the-neighborhood. The idea of “more value with less cost” is far from new – and Lean is not the only system of that kind. Other systems include Toyota Production System (TPS, major precursor of Lean), SixSigma (similar approach with larger focus on quality rather than waste), Value Engineering (similar approach with larger focus on product rather than production process), Theory of Constraints (TOC, heavy focus on de-bottlenecking).
All of those performance improvement systems include continuous improvement of product and processes as a necessary part and an ultimate goal. All of those performance improvement systems aim to larger involvement of personnel into the continuous improvement process. And all of those systems have problem solving as part of the effort towards the improvement.
Unfortunately, in most cases problem solving is the weakest point. To put it bluntly, problem solving skills of most performance improvement specialists suck. There are many reasons for that – lack of knowledge, lack of attention to this part, lack of courage to leave the comfort of well-charted territory. My believe is that problem solving is the most crucial part to make performance initiative a success – both in creating competitive edge and in making changes to the working culture. So, I created this web-site to support systems like Lean Manufacturing in their often-the-weakest-and-at-the-same-time-the-most-important area: problem solving.
What is problem solving?
Problem solving is an attitude and an ability to find applicable solutions in a situation when no (right) solution is apparent. The attitude starts with internal decision that problem creates opportunities.
- What is “problem”? Problem is involvement times tension. Your connection with tension inside or outside of you. Tension might be real, tension might be imaginary – it is not that important. Important is that if there is no tension, there is no problem. On the other hand, if there is no personal involvement, there is no problem either.
- What does it mean – “to create”? Here we will mostly talk about the “ability” part of the “problem solving is an attitude and an ability to find applicable solution”. Namely, the tools. And via the tools we will try to affect the attitude.
- The last first level question is: what is opportunity? Opportunity is a resource. You may find it, you may miss it. You may take it, you may leave it. Seeing the world as a place full of opportunities has two things on the background of your world perception:
while you have a problemeverything is a resource; and everything is connected toeverything else.
As a summary:
Feel free to jump forward:
- To find out more about the the basic approach and the main pitfalls of Lean
- To find out more about types of problems
- To find out more about my favorite basic problem solving tools
- To find out more about advanced problem solving tools
- To check out my blog
- To contact me with whatever purpose in mind