Our previous post shared best practices for gathering quality input when engaged in an improvement effort. Certainly, high quality information about the current reality is necessary, but it’s not sufficient to produce lasting solutions.
We also require systematic analysis, unencumbered by preconceptions and biases, to identify the best solution addressing the root cause(s).
Some useful methods of processing some of the inputs are:
- Systematically ask and answer the following questions to analyze the quantitative data gathered: o What question is this data intended to answer? o What can we conclude regarding that question from this data? o What additional questions does this data prompt?
- Develop a cause-and-effect fishbone diagram with the people closest to the work and with someone who brings a “fresh set of eyes” to theorize about root causes. And then they can identify what data would test the possible causes they identified.
- Use the 5 Whys to drill down from a confirmed cause to root cause(s) to avoid applying a superficial solution or ’patch’ instead of a powerful and lasting solution.
- Analyze the process flowchart to evaluate which work steps are inspection, rework, transportation, wait time, or a gold nugget adding value. Once the waste is identified and quantified, apply the 5 Whys thinking to drill down to root causes.
- Imagine perfection. Take some quality time with your team to think wildly about possibilities. Use exercises, including Triz, to prompt creative thinking to broaden the set of possibilities. If the best solution isn’t in the set of options a team surfaces, it cannot be selected for implementation!