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90% of problems can be solved with common sense and rigour“- Mr. Imai


By definition, a problem is a gap between the desired situation and the actual situation. It is because we all make mistakes, that the equipments degrade… that problems happen and that we have to solve. The resolution of the problems ensures the conformity to the standard and the stability.

Some quotes to help understand the notion of problem:

when there will be a problem, in 85% of cases it will be the organization, and in 15% of cases it will be the collaborator “-W. Edwards Deming

75% of the company’s problems are communication problems “-R. Fukuda

90% of problems can be solved with common sense and rigour“- Mr. Imai

“In any group of things contributing to a common effect, most of the effect is attributable to a relatively small number of these things” -Joseph Juran

“Give me an hour to save the world, I’ll spend 59 minutes defining the problem and 1 minute to find the solution” -Albert Einstein

What is well conceived is clearly stated and the words to say it come easily ” – N. Boileau-Despréaux

a well-posed problem is a half-resolved problem “-H. Bergson

success is not about never making mistakes but not doing them twice ” G. B. Shaw

a problem without a solution is an ill-posed problem “-A. Einstein

We cannot hope to solve our most complicated problems, with the same way of thinking as the one with which we created them “-A. Einstein

Principle 1: The state of mind of problem solving

Classic Paradigms

First, to solve a problem is to change a situation a, unwanted, to a situation B, desired. We are in a process of driving change and therefore we are always faced with the Paradigms Teams. More often than not, we find:

  • “They will never let us do it…”
  • “I don’t want to know, I’d have to change everything…”
  • “We’ve always done like this…”
  • “Why bother, does it work properly?”

To step in, we will use the tools of the conduct of change.

One mindset: positively welcome problems1

Problems are a source of lifelong learning and improvement. So should we welcome them positively and focus on:

  • Digging up the problems until the end.
  • Show Curiosity.
  • Stay calm and thoughtful: the reason must supplant the emotional.
  • Ask all the questions even those that appear seem inappropriate.
  • Be creative and open to everything.
  • Follow the rule of the 3 real.
  • Problems are the result of a system, men are only part of this system.
  • Always be based on facts. Use the SMED method: Show Me evidence and Data.
  • Take the time to look for the causes and not “jump” on the solution.
  • Never listen to the one who already has the solution before analyzing the problem.

Principle 2: Use a clear and detailed method

Not all problems require the implementation of complex resolution tools. Many of them are resolvable by Quick Wins. The goal in the first step is to be able to identify the category of problems to choose the right method.

1-Define a problem

This is a widely Recovery and detailed notion in each of the methods below. Accurately describing the problem often makes it possible to solve it. For this, we can help with tools as simple as the 5W2H.

2-Types of problems






Knowledge of the problem



Frequency of Occurrence




Few people

Many people and services

Potentially the customer


3-Choosing the right method

Tools Characteristic of the problem
Rigorous in the application of standards

Cause: known

knowledge of the problem: Yes

frequency: Sporadic or chronic

Extent: Few or many people

Daily Meeting and Quick Wins

Cause: known

knowledge of the problem: Not

Frequency: Sporadic or chronic

Extent: Few people

PDCA, 8D, 9D, 9S, PM analysis, Kepner Tregoe

Cause: Unknown

knowledge of the problem: Not

frequency: Sporadic or chronic

Extent: Little to many people

6 Sigma Green belt, Shainin

Cause: Unknown

knowledge of the problem: Not

Frequency: Chronic

Extent: Little

6 Sigma Black belt and Master black belt

Cause: Unknown

knowledge of the problem: Not

Frequency: Chronic

Extent: Many people


It is better to have a simple well-deployed method than a method that is difficult to apply.

4-Validate the results

Whatever the tool is used, it will be a matter of validating the results. For this, you can use a Hypothesis Testing To know if statistically our actions have borne fruit.

The concept of Quick Win

A quick Win is by definition a fast gain. Managed through a “mini-Project” organization, the criteria for considering an action like Quick Win are:

There is no need for specific investment.

There is no risk.

The perimeter is reduced.

We are sure that the results will have a positive impact.

The project team is reduced (1 to 4 people maximum) and has the skills and authority to implement the improvements.

The root cause is known and the obvious solutions.


1 – M. Imai (1997) – The art of manager with common sense

B. Saint-Voirin, G. Perrenot, C. Brulebois (2009) – 6 Sigma Guide

J. E Davidson, R.J. Stenberg (2000) – The Psychology of Problem solving

I. Kato, A. Emily (2011) – Toyota Kaizen methods: Six Step to improvement

G. Duffy (2013) – Modular Kaizen: Continuous and breakthrough improvement

J. Evans, W. Lindsay (2008) – Managing for quality and performance excellence

J. Stewart (2011) – The Toyota Kaizen Continuum: A Practical Guide to Implementing Lean

M.P. Ignace, C. Ignace, A. Contal, R. Medina (2012) – The practice of Lean management in it

C. Roche (2013) – Small Lean guide for managers

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