Problem solving with velocity


This may sound unpopular but having seen the approach to problem solving in organisations lately, it strikes me that we have forgotten how to problem solve.  Worse case we, as leaders, are the architects for the disempowerment of our employees by the choices we make in either the systems we use (normally ERP) or the choice of problem solving methodology.   For example, let take the ERP system.  In most cases, a breakdown of more than four hours must be logged in the system with a root cause failure notification, which then triggers an investigation by maintenance engineers.  This brings two problems into play from a Lean perspective.

  • The onus or responsibility sits with a small community of problem solvers who inevitably are swamped with a mountain of issues to fix..
  • The ERP systems rarely follow a problem solving methodology which, of course leads to more repetitive failures as the root cause is not resolved.

ERP systems and Lean requires a few more pages but let’s say, for now, there is a woeful inadequacy in this space where it adds unnecessary burden to the willing few and nothing of value to the people we want to address the problem in the first place.   With regard to the methodology, Six Sigma had led to fewer problems being solved in the workplace than ever before.  Six Sigma and DMAIC is making problem solving an elitist sport.   There is a need to get back to basics and by that I mean both in method and in training.  Problems hit the organisation all this time and at all levels within varying complexity.   The trick is to have a system that can capture the problem, categorise it in importance and get the right people working on it.  This is just as much about empowerment as it is having a system.

3C Strip and Escalation   The simplest and most elegant method is the 3C Strip.  It consists of 3 phases:

  • Concern – define the problem and its impact.
  • Containment – what have we done to stop the concern from hurting our people or affecting our customer?
  • Countermeasure – with a containment in place, what can we now do to fix the problem permanently?

Treat it as a piece of paper that anyone can access and use.  It works well when posted on the team board for all to see and can then be escalated where necessary.  I would rather see a team with a hundred 3Cs posted in the area than nothing at all.  At least an action plan could be devised for a hundred problems.  This method, using a simple strip of paper, has enabled organisations to enter the coaching space and truly engage in developing people’s problem solving skills.  It is a great leveler for leadership in understanding where the organisation’s real capability lies.   Velocity   Think of the 3C as the first port of call for any concerns with Safety, Quality and Delivery.  The moment we see a dip in performance the team can raise a strip and, if necessary, call for help.  If the problem proves to be complex in nature it can trigger an A3 Practical Problem Solving (PPS) sheet, which brings a more sophisticated methodology into play.  This is common when the Direct Cause of the problem is information.  The main thing is, the team can have a go first at trying to resolve the issue before reaching for a more sophisticated tool.  If the problem is deemed to be severe enough with little chance of resolution by the supervisor and the team then by all means draft in a Six Sigma Black Belt and get the DMAIC ball rolling.   My advice, however, is before reaching for a methodology that tends to bring a 12 week cycle into the process, see what your team are capable of first.  The results might surprise you.  My experience is that first line supervisors and their teams are capable and enthusiastic about tackling problems in their domain. It’s just that we, as leaders, have allowed systems and methodologies to get in the way of them being able to do so.  If you want to chalk up some runs on the board, then I suggest you start with 3Cs and focus on coaching the basics: define the Concern, get a Containment in place and implement a Countermeasure.  Be warned, you might have started a mini transformational revolution to problem solving and continuous improvement.   Download our A3 report on 3Cs here or contact us for more detail.   Mark Radley

Reduce maintenance turnaround time by 50%!
  • TEMPO is a system that has been developed to radically reduce the time taken to perform complex maintenance activities on fixed assets or fleet. It is a simple yet intelligent way of organizing your maintenance activities to complete the maintenance turnaround in half the time.
  • By organizing work sequences for trades/technicians and building critical paths and dependencies, TEMPO quickly highlights lost time opportunities in the overall planned turnaround.
  • Applying standard work instructions with step-by-step guides for process confirmation, TEMPO visualizes real-time progress for short interval control, providing instant decision making to maintain compliance to plan.
  • By using TEMPO to plan and execute complex maintenance turnarounds our clients have achieved 50%+ reduction in downtime, giving a 10%+ improvement in fleet availability.
Reduce maintenance backlog by 60%!
  • Unlock valuable maintenance time and use it to reduce chronic backlogs or stubborn deferred defects.
  • Give technicians more time for proactive interventions.
Improve asset reliability by 18%!
  • Enjoy the knock-on benefit of backlog clearance and proactive activities, improving the reliability of your assets.
Increase continuous improvement engagement by 180%!
  • TEMPO’s easy-to-use Concerns and Ideas capture feature engages technicians in driving improvements that help improve turnarounds, reliability, and availability
  • Identify the classic wastes (transport, inventory, motion, waiting, over processing, over production, defect) in relation to your maintenance activities.
  • Expose supply chain, kitting, resourcing, workplace organization, sequencing, tooling, and planning opportunities for review through TEMPO’s powerful reporting feature.
  • Analyze the hour-by-hour compliance to plan with the associated losses incurred throughout the turnaround event.
Back to top
{{BCD.web.gnav.slide + 1}}