Lean Root Cause Analysis

July 15th, 2009

Tags: lean process analysis, root cause analysis, lean root cause analysis, root cause, Operations Improvement

4 Questions about Your Processes:

  • Do you have processes that don’t perform the way you would like them to?
  • Do you have processing errors and customer complaints?
  • Does it seem like nothing ever gets out the door on time?
  • Are you tired of the inefficiencies and waste in your processes?

If you are in this situation then finding the root causes in your processes is the answer. Lean Root Cause Analysis begins with mapping of the current state, which is where you are now. All it takes is a walk through review of your current process, a digital camera to capture actual evidence, some sticky notes, sharpies, and a roll of brown paper.

Depicting the current state of your process on a Process Map, whether it is a Value Stream Map or a Deployment Process Map, gives you a visual representation from the beginning to the end of your process. You will be able to take a step back and review what’s actually going on objectively.

Photographs provide reminders of what is actually taking place. Sometimes the photos show some pretty scary things taking place in the process.

Information that should also be captured are cycle times, processing times, lead times, quantities of good and bad process outputs, travel distances, and inventory. The list is not all encompassing, but a good start.

The next step is to classify and quantify the Value Adding activities and the Non Value Adding Activities. We define Value Adding activities as ones that

  1. (1) the customer considers to be important and would be willing to pay for them,
  2. (2) the “THING” that travels through the process is physically changed, and
  3. (3) the process activity is done correctly the first time through the process.

All three requirements must be met or the process activity is considered to be Non Value Adding.

To reduce or eliminate the Non Value Adding activities in the process requires an understanding of the root causes that created the need for them. We use Cause and Effect Diagrams, Failure Mode Effects Analysis, and 5 Why Brainstorming to uncover the root causes.

Devise your corrective actions and implement the improvements. Sounds pretty easy and it can be. Just follow the 5 step DMAIC improvement process. Define your current state, measure what is actually happening, analyze the information to uncover the root causes, develop creative solutions to improve the process, and then implement the solutions and install controls to maintain your gains.

If you need some help getting started then take our course Lean Root Cause Analysis

The Lean Root Cause Analysis course teaches practical application tools for uncovering the root causes in your processes. Lean concepts are demonstrated with a simulation. You will then learn how to define your current state and uncover the root causes that are the impediments to your future state success.

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