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Root Cause Analysis

Learn Toyota's 8 Step Practical Problem Solving Methodology

11 min
Average Score

Ron Pereira

Partner at Gemba Academy

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Have you ever wondered why some organizations seem to effortlessly overcome challenges while others struggle to find effective solutions? In the realm of problem-solving, a structured approach can make all the difference. In this session overview, Ron Pereira introduces the Gemba Academy Practical Problem Solving course, shedding light on the significance of practical problem-solving methodologies.

Understanding the Essence of a Problem

Before we embark on the journey of practical problem solving, it's crucial to define what constitutes a problem. Ron Pereira identifies a problem as any deviation from the standard, a gap between actual and desired conditions, or an unfulfilled customer need. This fundamental understanding sets the stage for the subsequent exploration of problem-solving methodologies.

Why Practical Problem Solving Matters

Practical problem solving, as advocated by Gemba Academy, offers a common understanding and definition of problems within an organization. This shared comprehension facilitates a swift and urgent initial response. Moreover, adhering to a standard problem-solving approach eliminates time wasted in debates, enabling organizations to focus their energy on effective solutions. The emphasis on planning, root cause analysis, and mistake-proofing ensures that resolved problems don't resurface.

The Role of Planning in Practical Problem Solving

In the realm of problem-solving, the PDCA Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act) takes center stage. Ron Pereira emphasizes the criticality of thorough planning in the first step, "Plan," highlighting how improper planning can lead to extended resolution times. By exploring a case study, the session emphasizes the effectiveness of meticulous planning in solving problems efficiently.

Exploring Other Problem-Solving Approaches

While practical problem solving is powerful, other methodologies also play a vital role in addressing specific issues. Ron Pereira introduces two such approaches — the "Just Do It" method for quick fixes to small problems and the Eight Disciplines process adopted by Ford Motor Company. Additionally, the session touches upon the DMAIC process from the Six Sigma methodology, showcasing the diversity of approaches available for different problem scenarios.

The Eight Steps to Practical Problem Solving

The crux of the session lies in introducing the Eight Step Practical Problem Solving Process. Derived from the Toyota business practice, these steps form a comprehensive roadmap for tackling issues methodically. Let's briefly outline these steps:

1. Clarifying the Problem

The process begins with a deep dive into the problem, aiming to provide a clear description of the current situation. Observing firsthand and answering critical questions are imperative in this phase.

2. Breaking Down the Problem

To address complex issues, breaking them down into smaller, more specific problems is crucial. This step involves studying the various inputs and outputs of the process, facilitating proper scoping and prioritization.

3. Setting a Target

Commitment is key in step three, where a challenging yet achievable target is set. This target serves as a directional force, propelling the organization towards the ideal state.

4. Analyzing the Root Cause

Practicing "genchi genbutsu" (going to see the problem for oneself) is essential in identifying the root cause. Root cause analysis aims to pinpoint the factors contributing to the problem.

5. Implementing Countermeasures

Once the root cause is determined, step five involves making a plan to remove the root cause. This phase includes pursuing multiple countermeasures to ensure a comprehensive solution.

6. Seeing Countermeasures Through

Step six emphasizes the swift and collaborative implementation of countermeasures. Seeking input from various perspectives and maintaining persistence in the face of challenges are crucial aspects.

7. Follow-Up Evaluation

In the seventh step, the focus shifts to evaluating both the results and the process. The effectiveness of countermeasures is assessed to determine whether they were successful or merely a stroke of luck.

8. Standardizing Success

The final step challenges organizations to standardize successful practices, using the Japanese concept of "Yokotin." This involves replicating successful improvements and addressing unresolved issues.

In conclusion, the Gemba Academy Practical Problem Solving course offers a comprehensive framework for sales professionals to tackle challenges effectively. By understanding the essence of a problem, recognizing the power of practical problem solving, and exploring various problem-solving approaches, sales reps can enhance their problem-solving skills. The Eight Step Practical Problem Solving Process provides a structured roadmap for addressing issues methodically, ensuring long-term success.

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