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The Neglected Aspect of Lean: Practical Problem Solving [Webinar]

Posted by Mark Graban

Jan 6, 2016 10:48:36 AM

We're very excited to be hosting a webinar on January 12, 2016, featuring Jon Miller, co-author of the excellent book Creating a Kaizen Culture: Align the Organization, Achieve Breakthrough Results, and Sustain the GainsJon is currently a partner at Gemba Academy, an organization that's a formal partner of KaiNexus. You can also check out his blog, "Gemba Panta Rei."

The topic of our webinar is "Practical Problem Solving."


I think this is an underappreciated aspect of the Toyota Production System and Lean. Some refer to it as an "8-step problem solving" method. It's a shame that more people don't know about it since it's second nature to Toyota people. It's a very powerful method.

I had been using A3 problem solving methods for years, thinking of it in terms of the PDSA or Plan-Do-Study-Adjust model. But, when I had the chance to work with a former Toyota leader, Pascal Dennis, I was fortunate to learn this more precise 8-step model.


Listen to Mark read the post as part of our Podcast series:


I've included more about this model in the upcoming 3rd edition of my book Lean Hospitals, by the way.

If you've been practicing Kaizen as daily continuous improvement or "rapid improvement events" or using A3 thinking... or "doing PDSAs" or small "just do it" improvements, I think the Practical Problem Solving (PPS) methodology is an important thing to know... and to use.


eight-706890_640.jpgThe 8 steps of PPS are:

  1. Clarify the Problem
  2. Breakdown the Problem
  3. Set the Target
  4. Analyze the Root Cause
  5. Develop Countermeasures
  6. Implement Countermeasures
  7. Monitor Results and Process
  8. Standardize and Share Success

Sometimes, slightly different terms or words get used, but the idea is the same.

This all maps really well to the PDSA process. Steps 1 through 5 are "Plan," and steps 6, 7, and 8 are the "Do, Study, and Adjust" phases.

Notice the emphasis on PLAN. Before jumping into root cause analysis, we have to first make sure we understand the problem. Clarifying the problem ensures that we understand why we are looking for a root cause. We often have to "break down" a large, complex problem into something smaller and more manageable. 

There's a time and a place for simple "just do it" problem solving. But, when we need to dig deeper, PPS is a very helpful framework that structures our thinking and our improvement mindsets. It keeps us from jumping to solutions (or even from jumping ahead to assuming we know the cause) and helps keep us on the right track.

In our webinar, I'll be interviewing Jon in a Q&A format. You'll have an opportunity to ask questions, as well.


Using Practical Problem Solving to Spread Kaizen: Going Slow to Go Fast


Tuesday, January 12 at 2p EDT


  • The origins of the "Practical Problem Solving" approach and the connections to PDSA
  • How a formal problemsolving methodology can give a big boost to your Lean or continuous improvement efforts
  • Why root cause analysis is more complicated than it might seem and why problem solving isn't always linear or straightforward
  • How to avoid jumping to conclusions about problems or jumping to solutions
  • The difference in mindset around "countermeasures" versus solutions
  • How to develop your problemsolving skills and coach others

If you'd like to really dig deep into the methodology, before or after the webinar, Jon did a series of six podcast episodes for the Gemba Academy Podcast.

We'll have a relatively short time, but if you have questions about Practical Problem Solving, please register for the webinar and be prepared to submit questions.


Topics: Webinars

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