Practical Problem Solving

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Recently I was reading It almost felt trivial that this sort of framework would be invaluable to software engineers too (in fact for everyone). And finally countermeasures, evaluations, and countermeasures. Here from the direct cause, we expose and go deep to the root cause of the problem by asking WHY five times. 4th Why – Why CPU reached 100% – Because server instance size was not enough to handle increased number jobs. 5th Why – Why server size was not enough to handle the spike in usage – Because our auto-scaling is slow.

When confronted with a problem, first we want to make it crystal clear and get a grasp of the real point of cause. By asking a series of 5 whys, we can generally get to the root cause of the problem and fix it there instead of just duct-taping it and be waiting for it to rise again.

Stage 4 and the identification of root cause is, arguably, the most difficult and the most poorly executed.

Here Mark took us through a detailed process to move from the prioritised problem to possible direct causes.

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.If you would like more in-depth training in lean practices, you can visit our Facebook page at or even some blogs that we maintain for this important subject, like As Lean practitioners, we all know how to problem solve - don’t we? In many organisations the problem solving process is rushed, focusing on finding the quickest, easiest solution rather than the one that is the most value adding.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.How can we propagate our learnings across the organization? “Document and standardize the process that for all our instances and jobs proper alerts must be in place so that we know when they are malfunctioning” This was my take on how we can learn from a cross-discipline organization like Toyota on how to have a process and framework in place to solve problems effectively.Afterall, problem-solving is supposed to be fun and having a proper framework in place, helps us keep it that way!This is a fundamental building block of Toyota’s success and is practised by all employees at all levels.In a practice-based workshop, Mark Davies, Senior Manager at Toyota Lean Management Centre UK, took us through the 8 step problem solving process :- 1 – Clarify the problem2 – Breakdown the problem3 – Set a target4 – Analyse the root cause5 – Develop countermeasures6 – See countermeasures through7 – Monitor the process and results8 – Standardise successful processes Toyota understands that stages 1 – 4 are key to ensuring the right problem is tackled and in the right way.The mistakes are to jump in and prescribe possible direct causes to the problems without going to Gemba to confirm the facts.Here direct cause – observed causes of the problem - and root cause – the actual end cause we are trying to identify - are often confused.


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