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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Problem Solving:   In a lean transformation or any process improvement effort, identifying and closing gaps between current and target conditions.  In a lean management system, everyone is engaged in problem solving, guided by two key characteristics:Everything described or claimed in the problem-solving process (the problem itself; the target condition, the direct cause, the root cause) should  be based on verifiable facts, not assumptions and interpretations.   The burden of proof on the problem solver is emphasized through questions such as, How do you know that? Did you go to the gemba and grasp the actual condition first hand? How do you know you More »
Problem Solving Fast and Slow
By: Ben Root | July 15, 2014
Columns
"There are many paradoxes about the Toyota Production System," writes Ben Root. "Speed is certainly one of them. 'Do it slowly, but quickly.  '" Read more. More »
Problem Solving the Airlines
By: Danielle Blais | December 20, 2013
Columns
Rarely are process problems so clear as during the holidays! Have ideas for how to improve your air travel experience? Lean coach Danielle Blais does, too. Read more about what we can learn from travel stress! More »
Problem Solving to Align Purpose, Process and People
Workshops
This is an expanded version of our 1-day Lean Problem Solving workshop which is offered exclusively in our office in Cambridge, MA. More »
Isn’t the obsession with problem solving unnecessarily negative and depressing?
By: Michael Ballé | February 3, 2020
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Isn’t the obsession with problem solving unnecessarily negative and depressing? More »
Change Your “Pet” Problem Solving Method
By: Art Smalley | May 20, 2019
Columns
Got problems with your problem-solving method? This interview by LEI's Chet Marchwinski with Four Types of Problems author Art Smalley shares advice on how you can "change your 'pet' problem-solving method.  " More »
WLEI: Four Types of Problems, author Art Smalley digs in on problem solving
By: Lean Enterprise Institute | December 21, 2018
Audio
Author Art Smalley joins Chet Marchwinski to discuss problem solving and his new book Four Types of Problems from reactive trouble shooting to creative innovation.  Additional Articles and Books:Four Types of ProblemsBook Review: Four Types of ProblemsNot Every Problem Is a “Nail” But Companies Typically Reach for the Same Old “Hammer” More »
Assessing Problem Solving Capability in Job Candidates: A True Account
By: Derrick Redding | July 25, 2017
Columns
Last month, Derrick Redding shared three questions that you can ask job candidates to assess their problem-solving capacity. As a followup, he is now sharing a real-life example of a time when these questions helped him do just that - without ever once talking about work. Read more. More »
Getting Religious About Problem Solving
By: Lean Leaper | July 19, 2017
Columns
Have you ever heard of a lean transformation guided by scriptures? The people at LifeWayChristian Resources' distribution center in Tennessee have! Whenever possible, they use passages from the Bible to exemplify the principles in their lean training materials. Find out how. More »
Practical Guidance for Using Humble Inquiry in PDCA Problem Solving and Coaching
November 13, 2015
Articles
David Verble, a Toyota veteran and LEI faculty member, explains to lean coaches and continuous improvement professionals why "Humble Inquiry" is a core problem-solving skill and how to start using it. More »
How Wrong Assumptions about PDCA Problem Solving Destroy the Effectiveness of Lean Coaches
By: David Verble and Lea Tonkin | January 9, 2015
Articles
Problem solving based on the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle is very different from what we typically call problem solving. Here's why, according to lean coaching expert David Verble, who provides some important tips on how to improve as a lean/ continuous improvement coach. More »
Why Effective Problem Solving Begins With a Good Problem Statement
By: Dave LaHote | January 7, 2015
Columns
"Let’s solve world peace" or "let’s state our predetermined solution as a problem" aren't real problem statements, says Dave LaHote. Read why a good problem statement is so important, why it's harder than you think to come up with one, and learn how to write a better one. More »
Lean Talks: Problem Solving with ThoughtWorks
By: Kevin Kriner | May 9, 2014
Columns
Kevin Kriner, an agile project manager at ThoughtWorks, gives a short "Lean Talk" on what he's learned about root cause analysis at the Lean Transformation Summit 2014, including how root cause analysis develops people and strengthens teams. More »
Building Problem Solving Muscle at University of Michigan Health System
By: Jeanne Kin | December 13, 2013
Columns
"We are beginning to realize the wisdom of Henry Ford’s adage: 'There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems,.  ..  '" More »
Fighting fires vs. problem solving: what's the difference?
By: Ballé, Michael | October 20, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I hear that lean is about less fighting fires and more problem solving but I am unsure of how one differs from the other? More »
For Athletic Shoe Company, the Soul of Lean Management Is Problem Solving
By: Chet Marchwinski | June 24, 2008
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
When it began a lean transformation in 2003, New Balance, the only athletic shoe manufacturer that still makes some products in the U.  S.  , focused on using lean tools to improve product flow through its five New England plants to retailers and final customers. Next, with help from the Toyota Supplier Support Center, management began organizing the change effort around problem solving and process improvement to create a culture that would engage the workforce while moving the company to higher level. More »
Lean Problem Solving
Workshops
Harness the DNA of successful, sustainable lean implementations. You'll learn and practice the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) problem-solving method in this interactive workshop. More »
Leading in a Continuous Improvement Culture: Engaging and Coaching Problem Solving Thinkers
Workshops
This program is designed to describe this new role you can play as a leader in a program solving culture. It will also introduce skills that will help you be effective in that role and give you opportunities to practice them. More »
Using Training Within Industry (TWI) Techniques for Rapid and Sustainable Problem Solving
Workshops
Join us for a workshop based on scientifically-proven Training Within Industry (TWI) techniques designed to help you and your team (and the organization) learn faster. We will practice in real time through a lock-building simulation. More »
Recognizing Effective PDCA Problem Solving
Workshops
This workshop will review the basic six-step PDCA process for investigating problems and deciding the most effective ways to eliminate them. It is intended to help leaders and coaches develop the listening and observation skills to recognize and model sound PDCA problem solving based on grasp of actual conditions. It will also prepare leaders to facilitate teams in PDCA thinking and coach employees to develop the skills to apply the process on their own. More »
Online - Introduction to Problem Solving
Workshops
In this course, you will learn to grasp the situation at the gemba and use all your senses to understand what is truly happening. All too often, people create countermeasures to perceived problems without digging deeper or thinking more, that is, learning at the gemba to grasp the actual situation of the problem. More »
View Crises as Manageable Challenges Through Steady Lean Leadership
By: Lean Leaper | September 14, 2020
Columns
If you are using lean to tackle a series of crises, you may not be using lean in the first place, say a range of thinkers who urge leaders to cultivate a shared mindset that seeks problems from every person every day as a means of avoiding unexpected challenges. More »
No Standard, No Problem? Not Really. It’s a Big Problem
By: David Verble | September 8, 2020
Columns
Learn why the A3 is more than a problem-solving tool, and why it's critical to leading change. More »
The Art of Lean: Use These Tools to Help You Improve a Process, Part 2
By: Art Smalley | September 4, 2020
Columns
Take a closer look into this four-step approach that will help you "pinpoint the tricky parts" of a process as you work to improve it, says Art Smalley, president of Art of Lean, Inc. More »
Growing from a Tactical Practitioner to a Strategic Thinker
By: Andrew Quibell | August 25, 2020
Columns
One helpful way to move from being a tactical leader to a strategic one is to suggest that a better alternative exists and put people in a position where they can see the gains to be harvested from change, says Andrew Quibell. More »
When the Toyota Way Meets Industry 4.0
By: Jeffrey Liker | August 24, 2020
Columns
Industry 4.  0 is not a disruptive force that makes TPS irrelevant, but rather can be an enabler that builds on TPS culture and thinking, argues Jeff Liker--a way of viewing technology that is a core principle of productive lean thinking. More »
The Art of Lean: Use These Tools to Help You Improve a Process, Part 1
By: Art Smalley | August 21, 2020
Columns
Learn about this four-step approach that will help you “pinpoint the tricky parts” of a process as you work to improve it. Art Smalley, president of Art of Lean, Inc.  , reminds us of this practice that’s foundational to lean but not talked about much anymore. Part one of a five-part series. More »
Dueling Methods: 8D and A3
By: David Verble | August 20, 2020
Columns
One of the scores of questions sent in by attendees at our recent webinar on the A3 problem-solving process was what's the difference between it and the 8Ds. Webinar presenter and continuous improvement coach David Verble explains. More »
Ask Art: Why Implement Lean During A Pandemic?
By: Art Byrne | August 19, 2020
Columns
Implementing lean during this pandemic will allow many more companies to emerge from this economic crisis in far better shape than they were in before, says Art Byrne. In fact they will emerge much stronger than if they just tried to ride it out by making small changes to their existing batch approach. More »
Changing Routines
By: Josh Howell | August 18, 2020
Columns
In this article exploring ways to help lead positive change, Josh Howell asks: is pursuing understanding and conviction part of your influence or change model? Does your operating system enable it at the frontline, closest to the customer? And if not, what are the consequences? More »
Beware the Comforts of Waste
By: Rose Heathcote | August 13, 2020
Columns
After a major move, lean thinker Rose Heathcote reflected that with lean thinking comes the responsibility to look inward at oneself before looking outward to what must change in the organization. It may sit in the fundamental thinking we have adopted regarding business and costs, but it also gets more personal in how we treat and nurture our talent. More »
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