Toyota’s 8 Step Practical Problem Solving Methodology Overview

Toyota’s 8 Step Practical Problem Solving Methodology Overview

Hi there, my name is Ron Pereira and I’d like
to officially welcome you to this first overview module of the Gemba Academy Practical Problem
solving course. By the end of this module you’ll know what a problem is as well as why
companies such as Toyota use a form of practical problem solving to this very day in order
to improve their way of working. Next, you’ll also be introduced to other problem solving
approaches such as the six sigma DMAIC methodology. And, finally, by the end of this module you’ll
know what the 8 steps to Practical Problem Solving are as we prepare to take a deep dive
into each step throughout the rest of this course. OK, well let’s get started by first
answering a fundamental question – what is a problem? Well, first of all, a problem can
be defined as any deviation from the standard. Now, it can also be defined as a gap between
actual and desired conditions. And finally, a problem can be defined as an unfilled customer
need. Now, taking it a bit further, we’re often able to classify problems into one of
three types. The first is when the standard is not achieved. In other words, if our target
is 100% on time delivery and we experience a month of 82% on time delivery our actual
performance doesn’t meet the standard. The second type of problem occurs when the standard
is achieved but a higher standard is now required. Well, staying with the on time delivery example…
if we’re currently performing at 100% on time delivery at a quoted lead-time of 2 weeks,
our customers may very well ask us to reduce our lead-time to 1 week while still maintaining
100% on time delivery. And finally, the third type of problem occurs when our performance
to the standard varies, meaning it’s not consistently achieved. Now, this is actually a form of
mura, or unevenness, which we first learned about in the Transforming your Value Streams
course. Alright, well, now that we’ve been introduced to what a problem is… let’s now
turn our attention to why Practical Problem Solving is such a powerful approach to tackling
issues burdening you and your organization. First of all, Practical Problem Solving enables
organizations to have a common understanding and definition of what “a problem” actually
is which in turn creates a fast and urgent initial response. Next, a standard problem
solving approach removes time lost in debate and discussion. In other words, organizations
are able to focus their valuable time and energy on things that actually matter, such
as solving problems. Finally, thorough planning, root cause analysis, and the implementation
of mistake proofing ensures problems don’t reoccur since there’s nothing more disheartening
then to see a problem reappear a few months after it was thought to be solved. Now then,
throughout this problem solving course we’ll be referring to the PDCA cycle, which stands
for plan, do, check, and act. And in particular, we’ll be spending a lot of time on the first
step which is plan since the failure to plan properly, as shown on the top side of this
diagram, almost always results in longer times to resolve the problem. In other words, this
organization rushed through the planning phase only to pay for this hastiness in the check
and act phases. On the other hand, when an organization takes the time to do slow thorough
planning, as prescribed in the Practical Problem Solving approach, they’re far more likely
to solve their problems faster and far more efficiently as we see here. Alright, so those
are just some of the reasons why Practical Problem Solving is so powerful… now I’d
like to turn our focus towards a few of the other problem solving approaches used by companies
before we take a deeper dive into the 8 step Practical Problem Solving roadmap. First of
all, depending on the problem at hand… many companies utilize one of the simplest problem
solving methodologies available today known as just do it! In other words, for small problems
that may not require much time or resources it’s sometimes possible to quickly fix them
and move on. Now, these might be likened to so called low hanging fruit initiatives. Next,
Ford Motor Company adopted a problem solving process known as the 8 Disciplines which takes
8 Disciplines and uses them to tackle engineering problems. Now, some actually confuse 8D with
the 8 steps of Practical Problem Solving… and while they do share some similarities
they are different. Another extremely powerful problem solving approach finds its roots in
the six sigma methodology. Specifically, six sigma practitioners around the world have
used the DMAIC, or define, measure, analyze, improve, and control process to attack problems
associated with variation and defects for many years. As an aside, Gemba Academy plans
to offer six sigma training in 2010. Now, to be sure, there are other problem solving
methods used today but these are some of the most popular. OK, well to wrap up this overview
module I’d like to officially introduce you to the 8 step practical problem solving process.
Now, throughout the rest of this course – where we’ll follow an actual case study – we’ll
be taking a deep dive into each step. But for now, we just want you to become familiar
with their names. Now, I’d also like to point out that these 8 steps are based closely on
what Toyota calls the Toyota Business Practice – which is essentially a detailed explanation
of how the PDCA cycle works. Alright, so let’s get started. Now, the first step in the process
has us clarifying the problem. In other words, we must clearly describe the current situation,
while going to see with our own eyes in order to get the facts. Now, we also want to answer
questions such as whether we’ve contained the problem in order to protect the customer
even if this means implementing a temporary solution. The second step of the process has
us breaking the big vague problem down into smaller, more specific problems. Again we
want to go see the actual problem process or situation with our own eyes. Now, during
this step we’ll also take time to study the various inputs and outputs of the process
helping us to properly scope and prioritize our efforts. Next, once we’ve scoped the problem
it’s time to set a target that we will achieve… which is step 3. This is an important step
as it forces us to make a commitment. Now, this target should definitely be a challenge,
but also something that helps limit the scope. In other words, it becomes a “must do” target.
Finally, it’s important to remember that this target should take us one step towards the
ideal meaning it doesn’t have to be a gargantuan leap towards perfection… instead we’ll focus
on taking one solid step at a time. Next, step 4 has us analyzing the root cause. Once
again, to do this we must practice genchi genbutsu without prejudice, which means we
must go and see the problems for ourselves instead of relying on what a report says.
Now, during this step we’ll work to find points of cause which is the starting point of root
cause analysis. Now, as it turns out there are often multiple points of cause so we must
drill down using things like the 5 why. And for the record, 5 is not a magic number, it’s
just a typical minimum suggested to get to the root cause. Now then, a proper root cause
analysis will point to the action needed – namely the removal of the root cause. To do this
you and your team will need to make a plan that includes who, what, and when enabling
you to pursue multiple countermeasures which is step 5 of the practical problem solving
process. Step 6 has us seeing the countermeasures through as we implement our countermeasures
quickly as a team. To accomplish this it’s important to seek the help and most importantly
the ideas of many people. You’ll also want to communicate the status regularly while
turning the PDCA cycle again and again. And perhaps the best advice we can offer with
this step is to never give up! You’ll no doubt hit obstacles and challenges… but your willingness
to persevere and battle through these situations may very well mean the difference between
success and failure. Now step 7 is often called the follow up phase as we evaluate both the
results and the process. Now, during this step you’ll want to ask the questions, “Was
this an effective countermeasure or just luck?” Since, if you look closely at this picture
of the famous square peg in the round hole example… sometimes even great ideas such
as ensuring only round pegs get inserted have room for improvement since a person with a
square peg and a hammer just might find ways around this error proof device. Finally, step
8 of the practical problem solving method challenges us to standardize success using
something the Japanese call yokoten, which loosely translated, means to copy and expand
good kaizen ideas to other areas while also identifying unresolved issues. And in addition
to building on successes we must also face and learn from unresolved issues. In fact,
we should never shy away from these challenges as failure to address them could lead to problems
reappearing in the near future. Finally, during this 8th and final step we must set the next
targets for improvement since the phrase – no problem is a problem – is so very true. And
that covers the overview of the 8 steps to practical problem solving. Obviously we’ve
only offered a brief overview of these 8 steps in this overview module… but rest assured,
throughout the rest of this course we’ll take you on a thorough journey through each and
every step as we work through a case study example of a company solving a particular
problem using this powerful 8 step roadmap. So we’ll see you soon throughout the rest
of this course.

About the Author: Michael Flood


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