This post of my series on Practical Problem Solving (PPS) looks at what to do after you have done the “Do” part of PDCA. Yes, that’s right, after implementing the solutions you are not done yet. You need to monitor the outcome to see whether it has actually achieved the target you set much earlier. Here, the next steps can go into two directions. This would be the “Check” of PDCA. If you have not yet achieved the target… well… then you are not yet done and need to keep on working on the problem. If you have achieved the target, congratulations! Now share the wisdom with others. This is the “Act” of PDCA. Let me explain in more detail.
In this post of my series on the Toyota Practical Problem Solving (PPS), we finally get to the part many were excitedly waiting for—the development of countermeasures and their implementation. Some people like this part of actually doing the improvement (and hence finally the “Do” part of PDCA) so much that they skip the “Plan” part almost entirely. Don’t do that! Properly prepare and analyze before implementing a countermeasure. Without the plan, the countermeasure may be flawed.
In the previous posts on this series of the Toyota Practical Problem Solving (PPS) I went into detail on how to understand the problem by clarifying the problem and breaking it down to get the prioritized problem. In this post I will look at target setting and root-cause analysis. Setting the target and doing the root-cause analysis is still the “Plan” part of PDCA. Only in my next post with the development of countermeasures do we get to the next step of “Do.”
In my last post I introduced the Toyota Practical Problem Solving approach (PPS) and gave an overview how it is rooted in PDCA and often used in the form of an A3. Now let’s dig deeper and go into the details of the individual steps. The first is to clarify the problem. The second is to break down and stratify the problem—to try to understand the problem better by looking at it from different angles, preferably using data. In my next post I will talk about target setting.
Lean is a lot of problem solving. Toyota excels at such problem solving, and they have developed their practical problem solving (PPS) approach. For many it is surprising how much time Toyota spends on defining and understanding the problem, whereas (many in) the rest of the world immediately jump to a (possibly inferior) solution. Let me go through the process step by step.
One of the main hindrances for proper lean manufacturing is, in my view, management by numbers. While few managers actively do management by numbers, a quantitative measurement is still often preferred. The problem is if you can measure the cost but not the benefits of something…which often happens in lean manufacturing. Now let me rant a bit…
This post is on a topic you probably all have had experience with at one point or another (or even all the time) in your career. A superior makes a decision, and you are internally wincing because you know right away that it is a really bad idea. In this post I would like to talk about uncertainty and decision making, and how to make better suggestions. If you are a regular reader of my posts, you probably already know the answer: Involve the employees! This post is a continuation of my previous post on military leadership.
When improving a system, Western engineers love to take the technical approach and to optimize the machines and tools. However, at Toyota this is seen differently. At Toyota, they try to address a problem by first training the people, followed by improving the standards and the layout, before improving the equipment and finally twiddling with the design. Let’s have a closer look at how Toyota is approaching improvements.