Daily Problem Solving

by Chris Cooley

If problem solving is to become a mindset, yet the detailed approach whilst effective, is too resource consuming for all problems, how do you embed daily problem solving into your organisation ?

Daily problem solving

SymptomsEmbedding problem solving

Symptoms are what most people treat as the problem. Addressing the symptom directly is a cause of waste. Use the symptom to gain an understanding of the scope of the problem, the area or areas concerned and as a clue, but only a clue, to assist in locating the root cause.

Think of the symptom as only the starting point and then look at the flow downstream and upstream of this point.

Is there a standard ?

In what is standardisation we found that standardisation is ” your best of today applied consistently ” or in other words what works today and gives you consistent results.

Although there should be documented standards, they may not exist. There will however be a way of working which previously did achieve results. This is your basis for reviewing and ascertaining what has changed.

What is the change-point ?

The crucial element of daily problem solving.

If it worked before, whether there is a standard in place or not and it doesn’t work now, ask the question what has changed. Normally this will lead you to the root cause.

Be aware that it may not be enough to ask the question as you may also get assumptions coming back. Apply “genchi genbutsu”, go and see the process. This will enable you to check the answer.

5 why the change point

5 why is an effective technique to enable you to find the root cause. The use of 5-why will again assist you in removing assumption out of the investigation.

The key to good 5-why especially in daily problem solving is the way questions are used, and asked.


  • Closed questions
  • Leading questions


  • Open questions
  • Funnel questions
  • Probing questions

Overall, the art of questioning is to raise awareness in the person(s) you are addressing. This will allow them to find the root cause themselves.


  1. Recognise that as a leader your team will look to you to solve their problems for them
  2. By embedding daily problem solving they will be more able and willing to solve the problems for themselves
  3. Your questions should be challenging but not aggressive. Remember the purpose is that you are looking to raise their awareness.
  4. Daily problem solving is a potential solution to every day problems. If the root cause cannot be found or the problem has a big organisational impact the full problem solving process should be followed.
  5. Think about how you can cascade a solution that works.

Lean QCD incorporate this learning as part of their Leadership, Lean implementation and Cascaded problem solving training.

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