When are Lean Thinking, A3 Problem Solving, PDCA, Kaizen and Continuous Improvement not enough? There is actually a time when considering small incremental improvements are the wrong thing to do.
When you are dealing with a high degree of uncertainty, there still needs to be a process in place. If not, you may end up fighting the process versus working on the problem. I am not sure where I heard this but it is worth repeating here: “How many good ideas have you lost because of a poor plan?”
Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) tries to solve some of these problems but it is a fairly laborious process for the most of us. I came across a book by Tim Hurson recently, Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking that I thought was well written and the examples in it make implementing the process described quite simple.
I created a quick PowerPoint to walk someone through the process.
An excerpt from an Amazon review:
I’ll admit to being a bit jaded, and the first few sections of the book offer more of a history lesson about innovation and innovative thinking than I felt necessary, but for those approaching the topic for the first time, the concepts of the monkey mind and gator brain are compelling, since they demonstrate that our current methods of thinking avoid risk and most often simply react to threats or patterns. The book starts to get really interesting in the fourth chapter, which deals with resisting the urge to quickly arrive at an answer. Instead, the book encourages us to "Stay with the Question". In his approach, Hurson sucks us in, peeling the onion a little at a time and getting agreement, till we are in violent agreement that we must change drastically. Then he rolls out section three of his book, which outlines a process for creative and innovative thinking, supported by a number of simple but powerful tools.
The phases describe a method to generate better ideas, use some divergent then convergent thinking to stretch them, then move on to evaluate and determine which ideas should be considered for evaluation. What I also like is that he adds a step for deciding actions and assigning resources. Too often we get excited about selecting ideas for further investigation without determining and identifying the resources and plans necessary for the critical next steps. Along this process he introduces a number of tools: the I-cube or the C-5 or the DRIVE model, all of which are relatively easy to use and bring shape and focus around thinking and decision making that traditionally has been very subjective.
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