Problem Solving Approaches

5 Essential Problem-Solving Strategies Every Business Leader Should Know


In this guide, we distil years of leadership wisdom into five core problem-solving strategies tailored for business success. Whether you're navigating complex decisions, fostering team innovation, or seeking to enhance operational efficiency, our expert advice equips you with the tools to overcome obstacles confidently. Each strategy is backed by real-world examples and actionable steps, ensuring you can implement these powerful techniques immediately. Embark on a journey to elevate your leadership capabilities and propel your business to new heights.

In the labyrinth of challenges that businesses encounter daily, effective problem-solving methods are the threads that lead to the cord that unifies success. But what happens when the labyrinth of issues grows complex? This is where the science and art of Lean Six Sigma come into play, offering a map not just to solve, but to anticipate, assess, and ameliorate problems systematically. Here are five essential strategies in the Lean Six Sigma arsenal that arm every business leader with the proficiency to overcome the most intricate of business conundrums.

Problem Solving Approaches Slide

Standard Work


Imagine your business as a well-kept vineyard; every grape must be picked at the right time and in the right way to salvage the flavour. This meticulous process, akin to Standard Work, involves establishing a precise procedure for every task—the one best way to ensure quality, safety, specificity, and efficient use of resources.

In a world where change is a constant, some might hesitate at the seemingly rigid nature of a ‘standard’ procedure. But Lean Six Sigma reminds us that without a standard, there is no baseline for improvement. Only after defining this ‘one-best-way’ can teams engage in the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, consistently fine-tuning the process to bear sweeter fruit. Standard Work is not an iron cage; it is the seeds of agility and improvement, sown in the fertile soil of stability.

The Ironclad Approach to Consistency

Standard Work chains down variance and unplanned activities, providing clarity in roles and expectations, and ultimately, nurturing a culture of standardised efficiency.

A Flexible Framework for Change

While providing a structure that supports current success, Standard Work continually evolves, integrating learning, and adapting to change.

Workplace Organisation


Imagine an orchestra without a conductor, notes fluttering about like startled birds. Without a specified order, the symphony of your workplace could devolve into cacophony. Enter Workplace Organisation, or the 5S method, an arrangement that ensures every tool has a place and every worker knows where it belongs and how to access it promptly.

More than just a cleanup, this strategic approach to organisation — Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain — ensures that the environment supports the work, contributing to a systematic reduction in waste, both physical and temporally. A lean and organised workspace is the incubator of efficiency and safety, nurturing an environment where problem-solving seeds can sprout and grow.

Systematically Reduce Waste

The 5S method eliminates the unnecessary, decluttering not just space, but also time, motion, and waiting in the production process.

A Safe, Structured Haven

An organized workplace isn’t just efficient; it safeguards against errors and accidents, allowing the workforce to operate in a setting conducive to excellence.

The 3 Cs — A daily dose of continuous improvement

Every detective knows that a good case requires a thorough investigation. In the domain of Lean Six Sigma, those clues are the 3Cs — Concern, Cause, and Countermeasure, and the detective is the continuous improvement team. This technique, well-suited to stubborn and recurring problems, involves daily huddles where teams voice concerns and collectively dig through the possible causes before unveiling countermeasures to prevent a recurrence.

The power of the 3Cs lies not only in their commitment to root-cause analysis but also in the sense of shared responsibility and action. In gathering daily, teams promote a heightened awareness of the issues, foster creative, proactive problem-solving strategies, and ultimately drive an operation saw-toothed with continual improvements.

Daily Reassessment and Realignment

The 3Cs keep a vigilant watch over operations, ensuring that daily changes are reflected in the problem-solving strategy.

A Unified Front in the Battle Against Waste

By involving the entire team, the 3Cs push towards the most effective of countermeasures, using everyone’s expertise in the cause.

The A3 Approach—The Art of Story Telling


Storytelling is a powerful form of communication—it takes the listener on a structured journey of discovery, conflict, and ultimately, a resolution. The A3 Problem Solving Methodology encapsulates this approach by having problem solvers tell the story of a problem on a single sheet of A3 paper, guiding them through planning, analysis, implementation, and evaluation. This pictorial presentation not only aids in breaking down complex issues but also ensures that stakeholders can follow the story to its end, taking a valuable role in the resolution.

While it may seem like a reductive approach to confine a problem to a single page, the A3 Methodology instead empowers by distillation. It distills the ‘noise’ around an issue into a coherent narrative, allowing all involved to see the forest for the trees, and the path ahead unburdened by confusion.

Simplifying the Complex

The A3 method breaks down labyrinthine problems into bite-sized segments, making them manageable and digestible.

Involving Every Stakeholder

By presenting the complexity of issues in a clear, visual format, more voices can contribute to the resolution, ensuring a comprehensive and effective solution.

DMAIC — The Master Design of Problem Solving


DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) is Lean Six Sigma’s strategic playbook for solving complicated problems. Like the grandmaster in a chess game, the DMAIC process doesn’t just walk you through the paces; it shapes your moves in response to a methodical assessment of the board and the current state of the game.

Beginning with a problem definition and culminating in the systematic control and monitoring of the implemented solution, DMAIC is about setting the parameters, calculating your options, and making moves that carry you to victory in the quest for efficiency and excellence, the game of business.

Empowering Data-Driven Decisions

At the heart of DMAIC lies statistical analysis and hard data, ensuring that every step is bolstered by evidence and precision.

The Continuous Improvement Spectrum

DMAIC isn’t just about solving a problem; it’s about embedding a mindset that perpetuates Lean Six Sigma’s principles in every facet of the business.

In Conclusion


Problem-solving is not just about fixing what’s broken; it’s about fortifying your business against surprises and setbacks. Lean Six Sigma’s problem-solving strategies offer a systematic, structured, and data-driven approach that every business leader can harness. Whether it’s establishing a workflow, organizing the workspace, engaging in daily problem-solving practices, or navigating complex problem-solving methodologies, these tools are the blueprint to building a resilient, robust business that thrives in the face of adversity.

For those leaders, professionals, and CI practitioners versed in the language of Lean Six Sigma, mastering these strategies isn’t just a competitive edge; it’s a mandate. The markets swell with competition, and only those with the sharpest problem-solving techniques will carve out a niche and not just survive, but excel. It’s time to ask yourself — will you grapple with problems, or will you solve them with finesse and finesse impacting not only a moment but a legacy? Lean in, employ these strategies, and watch as you transform from problem-facer to problem-solver extraordinaire.

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Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell is a highly accomplished professional with 15 years of experience in building lean management programs for corporate companies. With his expertise in strategy execution, he has established himself as a trusted advisor for numerous organisations seeking to improve their operational efficiency.

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