Problem solving is a daily event and in organisations that have applied Lean Thinking, Problem solving begins with a good problem statement, effective root cause analysis (including 5 x Why?) and disciplined execution of the countermeasures following PDCA.
However, we have many problems in an organisation and so how do we ensure that our time is well spent and how do we manage our leaders when they ask us to tackle a problem that we may not consider as big a deal as they do?
The answer is with the H in the 5W + 1H of Problem Statement determination. As a recap:
W1: What is the Problem?
W2: Why is it a Problem?
W3: Where is it a Problem?
W4: When is it a Problem?
W5: Who is it a Problem for?
H: How much of a Problem is it?
I sometimes think that the H should be the first question that we ask, as on many occasions after thorough discussion you will discover that there is a perception of a big issue that is not rooted in fact. It is therefore extremely important that the How Much? question is answered with facts and as much as possible data. For example, if the Problem Statement is around Sales losses in a quarter due to poor Customer Service Levels, we need to ensure that we have data on the CSL over a period of time and, where possible, both quantitative and qualitative data from our customer.
The H part of the Problem Statement is therefore critical if we are to properly prioritise our efforts to improve the business and deliver the maximum improvement possible.
"I aim to promote the global sharing of best practices in the application of Lean Thinking."