Continuous Improvement (CI) is all about empowering individuals to identify, analyze, and solve problems. The real power and impact of these elements become apparent when they strengthen the quality of our processes and products, reduce cycle time, facilitate change management, mitigate risk, and improve the customer experience – all while improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and morale of those involved.
The goal of the CI team is to be internal consultants and coaches to help guide, drive, and sustain these improvements. Like any skill, problem solving is improved through training, practice, and employing best practices.
CI Offers Problem-Solving Training
The CI team developed a half-day training program that provides a simple, repeatable framework and toolkit to solve problems. Participants are asked to bring a problem their department is currently facing to the training. After learning about the problem-solving process and how to implement the toolkit, each participant gets the opportunity to apply the tools to their own issue.
Training is currently offered in each IWCO Direct facility. In Chanhassen, training is offered once per quarter. In Hamburg, Warminster, and Little Falls, training is offered on an as-needed (on demand) basis.
Requirement for Training? Bring a Problem to the Meeting
So far in 2019, approximately 50 team members have participated in this problem-solving training. Groups found the most helpful part of the training to be applying the tools to their own problems in a workshop format. Some great solutions have come out of that workshop model, including:
- Improved communication and progress assessment for training
- New pallet break review process in Bindery
- Standardized cycle rates for CMC inserters
- Recalibrated delay switches on swing arm inserters
- New cross-training program in Commingle operations
- Implementation of a checklist and Standard Work for material handlers to decrease wasted motion
Training Helps Employees Develop Problem-Solving Skills
The feedback we’ve received has been very positive. The tools that have resonated the most are the Good-Better-Best model for selecting solutions, the Fishbone diagram to help identify potential root causes, and the Six Thinking Hats brainstorming technique. Participants also like having the opportunity to practically apply what’s being learned to their own issues, and being able to brainstorm and discuss those issues rather than simply reviewing the theory of these problem-solving tools
Almost everyone is familiar with this adage, and it explains why we provide training for problem solving: “Give a man a fish, and he will be hungry again tomorrow; teach him to catch a fish, and he will be richer all his life.” The more skilled problem solvers we have, the greater impact we can make. In addition, the training is not just theory, but actual hands-on problem solving by each participant, creating what fitness instructors refer to as “muscle memory.
What makes this problem-solving training unique and successful? First, it is practical and allows participants to apply the tools to their real work issues. Second, the tools can be applied to any facet of a job or process. Want to learn more about our approach to CI and problem solving? Contact me here.
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