One morning, while leaving the house for work I noticed that the driver’s side front tire on my car was low and unsafe to drive. So, I turned on the air compressor in the garage and waited for it to fill up with air, then proceeded to go to work. To my surprise the next morning the tire was once again low on air. I followed the same process and went to work.
The following morning, while again waiting for the air compressor to fill with air, I used Lean principles to analyze the situation. That evening I put the air compressor on a timer so I didn’t have to wait the next morning while filling the tire. I improved the process, making it more efficient by saving myself time. Or had I?
Problem Solving with Lean Methodology
There is a quote by Peter Drucker that says:
Nothing is more useless as doing something efficient which should not be done at all
I think that everyone knows what I should have done – figure out why the tire was losing air and get it fixed. It may seem obvious, and yet we do this all the time in business. Instead of spending the time to dive into problem solving, we just keep putting a band-aid on it. We believe it just takes too much time to find the root cause and develop a solution that prevents the problem from resurfacing. So, we keep ourselves stuck in a cycle where the problem keeps happening again and again while we overlook it, or create an inefficient work-around.
How many times would I fill the tire before it became greater than the time it would take to have the tire fixed? Truly it is clear to the objective observer that the solution was temporary. Very temporary.
If you were to ask your employees what their biggest issues in their workplace is, they will likely tell you that it’s the same problems not being dealt with, over, and over, and over again. I could bring up several quotes here, like this definition of insanity, but it comes down to doing what is right, not what is easy.
We as leaders have to provide those we work with the best opportunity for success, and that requires us to not just fix problems, but to solve them so that they never come back.
Don’t improve a process which shouldn’t be done in the first place.
PBEX, LLC can provide training on root cause analysis and problem solving to provide the means to prevent problems from reoccurring. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a process improvement expert.