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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 McGuiness | 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 »
Is lean problem solving different from regular problem solving?
By: Michael Balle | July 16, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How is lean problem solving any different from regular problem-solving? 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 »
Guest Post: Insights on Daily Problem Solving
By: Michael Ballè | August 29, 2016
Columns; eLetters
In this guest post, Joe Lee, a sensei at Lean Enterprise China and former manager at Toyota affiliate Kuozui Motors, LTD, describes his key takeaways from Michael Ballé’s recent column on daily problem solving More »
What does “daily problem solving” really look like in practice?
By: Michael Ballè | July 11, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I hear the phrase “daily problem solving” a lot. But what does it really mean in practice and how does it work? More »
Rather than narrow problem solving, shouldn't we look for disruptive breakthroughs?
By: Ballé, Michael | April 11, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How can a narrow focus on problem solving help us to find innovative solutions? Shouldn’t we be looking for disruptive breakthrough instead? 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 »
Avoid the Costly Work of Rework
By: Rose Heathcote | October 19, 2020
Columns
Customers care only for the product or service they receive, says Rose Heathcote. They're not interested in how much effort it took for you to make it happen or how many times you had to fiddle with it to get it right. They're also not interested in what it cost you. So, we cannot make our lumpy processes their problem. More »
Never Fail...To Create the Conditions for People to be Successful
By: Katie Anderson | October 13, 2020
Columns
In this excerpt from Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn, Katie Anderson shares the story of how Isao Yoshino learned first-hand the value that Toyota places in learning from failure--from humbly framing unexpected outcomes as opportunities to learn. More »
Turn To Lean in Times of Crisis
By: Lean Leaper | October 12, 2020
Columns
Lean thinkers need new tools and new mindsets to face today's daunting challenges, argues Jim Womack, who shares examples of how this has sparked great historical lean "leaps.  " More »
Boosting Organizational Resilience Through Jidoka
By: Tom Ehrenfeld | October 5, 2020
Columns
Jidoka enables operators to build in quality into the production process--and forms a foundation of stability helping a company respond to crisis with resilience. This roundup shares resources explaining jidoka and helping you get started with it. More »
Align Your Continuous Improvement Efforts: Practical Tips from 4 CEOs in 4 Major Business Sectors
By: Chet Marchwinski | October 1, 2020
Columns
Four CEOs who are leading lean management voices in the critical economic sectors of manufacturing, supply chain, healthcare, and education, offer advice on aligning your continuous improvement effort during the Virtual Lean Learning Experience conference. More »
The Power of Personal Yokoten
By: James P. Womack | September 29, 2020
Columns
Personal yokoten to teach new mindsets and attitudes is an activity all of us can perform out in the world every day with every manager, team leader, and team we touch, says Jim Womack. He believes we can transfer new, lean ideas about management and leadership in our civic roles and even in our families as we think through tough issues. More »
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