Four Types of Problems: from reactive troubleshooting to creative innovation by Art Smalley (2018, Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. ) is a fascinating book focusing on dividing problem solving and innovation into four major types:
- Troubleshooting: A reactive process of rapidly fixing abnormal conditions by returning things to immediately known standards. While beneficial in the immediate term this approach often fails to solve the problem’s root cause.
- Gap-from-standard: A structured problem-solving process that aims more at the root cause through problem definition, goal setting, analysis, countermeasure implementation, checks, standards, and follow-up activities.
- Target-state: Continuous improvement that goes beyond existing levels of performance to achieve new and better standards or conditions.
- Open-ended and Innovation: Unrestricted pursuit through creativity and synthesis of a vision or ideal condition that entail radical improvements and unexpected products, processes, systems, or value for the customer beyond current levels.
Art Smalley is a well known Lean expert, and this book definitely grows out of the wisdom and is a pretty good read. He shares
the strengths and weakness of each problem solving technique providing many points of introspection, such as the questions at the end of each chapter and excellent illustrations.
This book provides s a framework, a mental model, to effectively approach and assess a situation in order to seek and bring the appropriate kind of thinking to calmly, confidently address the problem at hand.
In many ways this book was my favorite quality book of 2018. I think it could serve as a valuable primer and I’m contemplating how to use it for internal training this year.