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A Structured Approach to Problem-Solving | Webinar Recap

Posted by Noah Paratore

Jun 9, 2021 1:08:46 PM

We had the pleasure of presenting a webinar hosted by Chad Westbrook, a manufacturing engineering manager and AGCO production system manager at AGCO Corporation. AGCO is a full-line manufacturer of agricultural equipment. The company makes everything, including tractors, tillers, sprayers, bailers, and other equipment. Chad joined our own Mark Graban to discuss a different way of thinking about problem-solving. This post is a recap of the presentation - watch the full thing for all the details!

A Structured Approach to Problem-Solving

Presented by Chad Westbrook, AGCO

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In this webinar, you'll learn a structured approach to problem-solving using the following tools:

  • 5G – A tool used to describe a loss phenomenon
  • 5W1H – An approach to the revised phenomenon
  • 4M1D – Defining the contributing factors to the revised phenomenon
  • 4M1D Confirmation – Validating the contributing factors
  • 5 Why’s – Root cause and effective countermeasures

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Topics: Lean, Spread Continuous Improvement

2 Popular Process Improvement Methodologies Explained

Posted by Morgan Wright

Jun 2, 2021 11:14:50 AM

The world’s most successful organizations are relentless in their quest for flawless processes and perfect execution. The ability to reliably produce quality outcomes with minimal waste is elusive but achievable with the right leadership and attention. That’s why many organizations turn to proven process improvement methodologies and techniques.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement Software

How Lean Healthcare Management Can Elevate Patient Care

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 28, 2021 5:17:07 PM

Although the Lean quality improvement methodology was initially developed to improve the quality and productivity of automotive factories, it has been used with great success in industries and settings of all types, including software development, government, retail, and other service settings.

Healthcare organizations, in particular, have found that the approach can be used to reduce costs and improve quality of care, patient safety, and satisfaction at the same time.

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Topics: Lean

DMAIC Tools Offer a Solid Structure for Problem Solving

Posted by Kade Jansson

May 11, 2021 10:30:14 AM

DMAIC (Deh-May-Ick) tools are some of the most critical options in the continuous improvement toolbox. They are most closely associated with the Six Sigma methodology. Still, the DMAIC approach to problem-solving is also used by those who practice Lean manufacturing or don’t use a formal management structure. DMAIC is so widely used because the problem-solving framework takes teams from discovering root causes to long-term, stable standard work. It is a repeatable process that employees can learn to apply to any number of process problems.  

What Are DMAIC Tools?

DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.  Motorola is credited with bringing it to prominence, although it was essentially an evolution of the Toyota production system.

A deeper dive reveals why it works so well.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Improvement Process, DMAIC

How to Design and Use an A3 Management Process Template

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 3, 2021 4:23:43 PM

Whether you’ve read volumes about various business methodologies and the philosophy of continuous improvement or just a few articles, you can’t be blamed if you’ve started to wonder if Toyota developed every improvement technique.

They certainly contributed a lot but, companies like Motorola, General Electric, Nike, and others have enhanced thinking about the power of positive change. In fact, these days companies far outside of the manufacturing sector including those in healthcare, construction, and higher education are finding new ways to inch closer to business process perfection.

However, there is no denying that many of the tools and techniques that businesses of all sorts find useful were developed as part of the Toyota Production System.

The A3 management process is one example.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

Three Steps to Applying the A3 Problem-Solving Methodology

Posted by Ryan Rippey

Apr 21, 2021 1:33:07 PM

The A3 problem-solving methodology was first used by Toyota in the 1960s and later embraced by proponents of Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, Lean, and other systematic approaches to continuous improvement. "A3" references a European paper size that is about the same size as an American 11-inch by 17-inch tabloid-sized paper. Using the A3 process, teams create a one-page improvement project report. By limiting the report to one page, teams are forced to be concise and thoughtful about including only relevant information needed to solve problems. 

Because our solution supports the A3 technique, and problem-solving and continuous improvement go hand in hand, we are often asked for tips on how to deploy it. Here are three steps to success.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

Key Objectives and Activities for Each Step of DMAIC

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Apr 14, 2021 12:12:02 PM

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) is a data-driven, structured, customer-centric problem-solving methodology. Each phase builds on the last to arrive at practical solutions for challenging problems. Define tells you what to measure. Measure tells you what to analyze. Analyze tells you what to improve. And Improve tells you what to control.

Each phase has particular objectives and is supported by a specific set of activities. Let's take a closer look at them.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma

Real Life Examples of the 7 Wastes of Lean (Plus 1)

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Apr 12, 2021 11:33:36 AM

Ecologists and other environmentally aware people often talk about a goal of "Zero Waste." We think that's an outstanding goal for business as well.

Eliminating waste is at the heart of the Lean business methodology. The purpose of Lean is to spend more of your time creating value for customers by reducing or eliminating everything that does not produce value (AKA the waste). To make it easier to find and eliminate waste in business processes, Lean practitioners identified the "7 Wastes of Lean." Some include an 8th waste, the waste of human potential.

Although the Lean approach originated in manufacturing, it is used in almost every sector. Strikingly the seven wastes are common across industries, including software development, construction, and education.

While some of the wastes are self-explanatory, others are more difficult to recognize. This post aims to help by giving a few examples of each type of waste in various businesses. Hopefully, they will help you think about how waste may be occurring in your processes. Of course, the people who are most likely to find and correct waste are the process operators, so it is a good idea to share these examples with them and provide a way for each employee to submit opportunities for improvement.

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Topics: Lean

The Fundamentals of the Lean Methodology

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 25, 2021 1:39:40 PM

The Lean methodology is an evolution of the Toyota Production System that the Japanese automaker implemented following World War II to improve the efficiency and flexibility of its manufacturing. Two important books, The Machine That Changed the World (1990) by James P. Womack, Daniel Roos, and Daniel T. Jone and Lean Thinking (1996) by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, outlined the structure and principles for the Lean method.

Although Lean got its start in manufacturing, today it is widely used across the globe in every sector including logistics and distribution, services, retail, healthcare, construction, maintenance, and even higher education.

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Topics: Lean

An Introduction to Process Control Charts

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Feb 4, 2021 12:27:31 PM

Donald J. Wheeler, PhD is a world-renowned expert in continuous improvement. He's worked with W. Edwards Deming and wrote the classic book Understanding Variation. 

Wheeler once wrote and said, "Statistical Process Control is, at its heart, about getting the most from your processes. It is about the continual improvement of processes and outcomes. And it is, first and foremost, a way of thinking... with some tools attached." 

I’d like to thank him for providing the perfect quote for a blog about process control charts because measurement, control, and improvement are exactly what they are designed to enable.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Improvement Process

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