In a Manufacturing Company, Problems are a day to day normal. Every Company would have Process problems, Product problems , People problems. The first two, Process and Product Problems are the ones we are addressing in this short Article.
Living with the Problems
I have observed in companies that the same Process and Product Problems exist for a very long time. Various groups of Managers would have claimed victory over these problems and yet somehow the same problems exist forever. An Entrepreneur who would have been there for a long time in the organization would have seen that the problems are as old as him/her in the organization.
I also notice that most of the Managers / Engineers are simply not equipped with the Problem solving abilities. I understand that the Engineers are not taught any Problem solving methodology in their Engineering course. They do not have any theoretical knowledge of the Problem solving.
In Automotive Industry the Problem solving is better evolved. The Engineers / Managers in the Automotive Industry would have been taught some Problem Solving methodology. But, again my observation is that very small percentage of these Engineers / Managers would have learnt how to solve problems in a systematic manner. I would put this percentage at about 5%.
It is very important that each of the Engineers in Manufacturing Companies, learn how to solve Problems. This is the most fundamental skill that is needed in this industry. Every Manufacturing Company should create Problem Solving Ninjas in their company.
How do you create a group of Problem Solving Ninjas in your company?A few steps can be followed:
01. Select a Problem Solving Methodology: There are several Problem Solving methodologies available. Eg. 8D, QC Story etc. A Company can formulate their own methodology borrowing good practices from all formal Methodologies that are available today. A Company should have a formal Problem Solving methodology and the process of it should be written down in detail.
02. Formulate an E-Learning Lesson to teach your Problem Solving Methodology: To teach the methodology in a uniform manner and to test the Trainees, an E-Learning lesson can be very useful. A E-Learning lesson has to be produced well. It requires experts to do this. It has to be used along with Physical Projects with Certified trainers within the company. When you start on this journey, you may use outside agency to train the Trainers.
03. Certify the Trainees: Define the Proficiency levels that are needed for Engineers / Managers in various functions. Train the Trainees in theory. Every Trainee should carry out a physical project in the correct methodology. The Physical Project has to be evaluated by experts from outside. This is essential to ensure the quality of the Problem solving Ninjas. On the basis of the Theoretical knowledge and Practical knowledge in terms of solving actual problems, the Trainees are certified.
04. Regular Problem solving:The Trainees should be allotted problems continuously and they should be guided to solve problems. Only this will ensure they learn the Problem solving deeply.
05. Problem solving app:It will be good to develop a ‘Problem Solving App’ that will have all the Problems in the company and that will allot the problems to various Problem Solvers continuously. This App should also monitor the stages of the Problem solving and follow up with the Trainees.
06. Keep improving the methodology regularly: Majority of the Problems in a Manufacturing Company are simple and do not need advanced tools. But, a small percentage of the problems would need Statistical tools like DOE, Regression Equations and so on. The Problem Solving methodology has to be continuously improved with these advanced tools. The Certification has to be upgraded for these additional tools.
07. Giving high importance to Problem solving: A Company should give high importance to the Problem solving and the importance should be reflected in the Performance Management System in a company. Employees who are ‘Problem Solving Ninjas’ should be rewarded.
A Company that is able to solve the Product / Process Problems can progress very well in satisfying the customer needs. A Company that can keep upgrading its’ ability to satisfy the ever increasing demands of the Customer would obviously progress well in the Business.
Develop Problem Solving Ninjas in your Company!!