Solving daily problems is everyone's responsibility       

Surely in today’s market of complex and relentless business challenges everyone in an organisation needs to take on the responsibility of solving workplace problems and this requires a formal structured approach. If you were to ask 20 random people within your organisation to spend ten minutes and write down what is their approach to solve simple daily business problems, what would the summary show?  
 By Mark Stewart

Quite often, organisations experience the following:
  • Problems that they just can’t solve. Workarounds are institutionalized, even budgeted for. 
  • Solving the same problem over and over again. The chronic condition of chasing the symptom. 
  • Significant or repetitive complaints from customers (external/internal). 
  • Areas of performance that are generally below the desired standard. These problems become extra inventory, extra staff, more returns and loss of market acceptance. 
  • Significant time discussing problems without using data, a formal structure and without resolution. Can make the problems even worse!
But there is a way to change this. Deploying an organisationwide standard problem solving process based upon a very simple version of LSS DMAIC is an innovative way of approaching this. It allows for all employees to be able to embrace the basic application themselves as well as understanding the bigger picture. Limiting problem solving to a select few experts, as is often the case with initiatives like LSS, prevents creating a culture where everybody improves the work they do every day. Success cannot be sustained without developing an army of problem solvers throughout the organisation.

“Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen.” – Taiichi Ohno.

This quote is used frequently to emphasise the importance of standardised work such as systems and work processes – but it is also important to have a standardised problem solving process across the organisation

Deploying a very simple version of DMAIC provides a very light but effective method to leverage the strengths of LSS to all employees. It should be:
  • Easy to train via a Train the Trainer approach so all levels across the organisation are trained. 
  • Supported by a people change model to ensure that the skills learnt become habit. 
  • Seen as truly part of the culture of the organisation – a common language and understanding. 

Driving habitual use - a culture change model
A large scale employee training program would have little payback if it was not supported by a strong change management strategy to drive regular use. Here the powerful and portable change management model recommended is Influencer™ (New York Times Best Seller) by VitalSmarts. This proven, yet simple model can help ensure the behaviour change of employees across the organisation to achieve that vision of all employees using simple DMAIC for problem solving. 

It focuses on a few high-level ‘vital behaviours’ that are driven by strategies from six-sources of influence. Understanding these vital behaviours and also the ‘crucial moments’ when they must demonstrate the use of that vital behavior is key – and as these vital behaviours become habit we get the change we need. So the way forward is not just the training but also the change management to go with it and truly make it part of the organisation’s culture.