What is a ‘problem’?


WITS Activities Changes Quality Level

Change Quality Level.   As far as Work Improvement Teams are concerned, there is a strong relationship between making improvements and problem solving.  Both making improvements and problem solving are efforts to change the quality level.

A Defect – Wear and Tear.

Problem Solving.   For instance, if a high proportion of widgets produced in the production line is failing at the inspection station, the line is having a problem.  The line is not meeting its acceptable quality level.  Any effort to elevate the quality level to catch up with the acceptable level, we called out action problem solving.

A Defect – Production Quality.

Making Improvements.  Now, a certain acceptable level of failures are usually ‘allowed’ for all production (although some hardline supervisors may not agree! They argue for Zero Defects), and despite achieving the quality level, one can still strive for even better results.  Technically, if we strive to exceed the acceptable quality level, we are making improvements.   

 Problem.   Therefore a problem happens when we detect a shortfall of the standard.   it can be translated into ‘below expectation’;  ‘not achieving targets’; ‘not meeting requirements’; ‘not up to the mark’.  In the workplace, we see the effects of problems as ‘delays’, ‘rework’, ‘waste’, ‘errors’, ‘rejects’, ‘lateness’, ‘wrong delivery’, ‘defects’ etc.


A Defect – Human Error.

The most basic function role of WITs is to discover and remove problems.  At a higher level, the team is also engage in activities to make changes to work so that the quality level can be raised – make improvements.

Problem Solving Tools.   To be effective, the team need to be work together to eliminate a negative situation.  Even more subtle effects of problems is that it may grow (or simmer) over time.  Thus we know that problems can be of different level of seriousness.  The ‘seriousness’ of a problem is therefore an important consideration.  The problem with this is that given the nature (or diversity) of everyone of us, whenever the team meets to discuss how to tackle a problem, there are many different opinions and perceptions.   Over the years, I have been training teams to use team-based problem solving tools to help them with their problem solving project.  Visit my blog on Problem Solving Tools at : www.problemsolvingcoach.wordpress.com


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