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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 »
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 »
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 »
New Book Explains How to Create “Steady Work” in Unsteady Times with Standardized Work Cadences
By: Karen Gaudet and Chet Marchwinski | April 6, 2020
Columns
In Steady Work, the new book from the Lean Enterprise Institute, author and former Starbucks’ Regional Manager Karen Gaudet offers astute business guidance for turbulent times and a heartfelt personal story about how the continuous improvement operating system revitalized the retailer during the global financial crisis and helped employees in Newtown, CT, get through the worst week of their lives. More »
Recommended Reading: Immunity, from Planet Lean
By: Lean Leaper | April 3, 2020
Columns
Please read the Planet Lean article Immunity for a detailed primer on how Italian manufacturer FPZ applied lean principles when tackling a host of problems posed by the current pandemic. More »
Lean and "emotional heijunka" in a Time of Pandemic
By: James P. Womack | April 1, 2020
Columns
In this timely reflection, Jim Womack calls for "emotional heijunka": taking a deep breath, identifying the most important problems that must be addressed in a given process, and screening out the emotional inputs we are bombarded with so that we don't get into the dumps or soar with false euphoria. More »
How One Company is Using Lean Fundamentals When Facing Disruption
By: Michael Ballé | March 27, 2020
Columns
Companies that have been built using lean principles are turning to these core ideals when confronting the unique challenges caused by today’s pandemic. Here's how the French seller of automobiles, AramisAuto, is responding. More »
Coping with COVID-19: Lessons from The Plague
By: John Y. Shook | March 25, 2020
Columns
In this time of pandemic, John Shook shares some ways this novel coronavirus is impacting him personally, noting "For Camus, hope is the enemy. But, from where I sit today (I may sit somewhere else or lie prone tomorrow), hope embodied in action is in itself medicinal. The most powerful medicine is to take caring action.  ” More »
Why (and How) We Believe Lean Can Help During COVID-19
By: Lean Sensei Women | March 20, 2020
Columns
As Lean Sensei Women, we have put together some relevant lean suggestions and ideas for your organization to use (and of course, you can apply many of them at home as well) in response to COVID-19. They’re simple and easy, can be implemented quickly, and are all based on our lean principles of respect for humanity and continuous improvement. More »
How Can Lean Help Respond to Crises?
By: Michael Ballé | March 11, 2020
Columns
Although lean might seem fragile to crises, because of low inventories, it’s quite the opposite, says Michael Balle: Lean thinking is about training to solve small crises – problems – daily. More »
Lean in the Time of Coronavirus
By: Tom Ehrenfeld and James P. Womack | March 9, 2020
Columns
While lean offers no direct countermeasure to tackling the current coronavirus health challenge, Jim Womack points out in this podcast that key lean practices such as just-in-time supply chains should not be mistakenly viewed as compromised practices that contribute to maladaptive responses. More »
A Consciousness of Reality
By: John Y. Shook | March 6, 2020
Columns
There are countless cases of lean thinking being applied masterfully with the word lean (or the Toyota Production System) nowhere in sight, writes John Shook, who argues that lean thinking and practice can embody the power and potential of lean thinking as a holistic approach to making things better for even the world’s thorniest problems. More »
Respect for People Means Taking Care with Your Questions
By: Karen Gaudet | February 14, 2020
Columns
Asking effective questions is an art in and of itself, says Karen Gaudet, in this excerpt from her new book, Steady Work. Of the many skills required of a leader through a lean transformation, to ask questions of others when you seek to understand a certain problem or situation can make or break the outcome. More »
How Working In Oncology Has Reframed Failure and Success
By: Carlos Frederico Pinto | February 5, 2020
Columns
Doctor Carlos "Fred" Pinto and his colleagues at IOV in Brazil have learned that resilience emerges when applying lean thinking consistently to support better care for patients with cancer. More »
The Hard Work of Making Hard Work Easier
By: Mark Reich | December 11, 2019
Columns
We persevere by struggling to overcome the challenges of hard work, argues Mark Reich. And, he says it is also our responsibility to challenge individuals, to “invoke struggle” so people think about how to change how the company views frontline work. It is our job to ensure that the lead person struggles to change the culture. More »
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