There is little argument regarding the critical role that structured problem-solving plays in a lean transformation. Besides the business results associated with solving problems, developing problem-solving skills increases learning, drives the desired change in thinking, and helps people more clearly understand how lean works as a system. With this said, however, it is amazing how little effort many organizations put into developing effective problem-solving skills. It seems like more time is spent on things like 5S, value stream mapping, and other tools that are generally considered easier to apply and less likely to be met with resistance. As a result, transformation does not occur, improvements are not sustainable, and the big gains possible through lean thinking are never achieved.
Good discussion on the importance of rigorous, sustained problem-solving as part of Lean initiatives. I think many of us have experienced this in our own organizations.
Utilizing problem solving tools in a structured way helps us better understand what is happening, how it is happening and most importantly, why it is happening. Armed with this understanding we can then engage in those improvements. Problem solving is key to getting those improvements because it allows us to discover why a problem is actually happening and not to just treat symptoms.
Problem Solving needs to reach a level of detail that accurately identifies an actionable cause that can then be addressed.