An external auditor was being shown the wide use of improvement storyboards throughout the organization. He was very impressed by the daily experiments, the documentation of what was being learned, and the results being gained.
Then he said “…but they aren’t doing problem solving.”
Huh? It turns out that, to this person, “problem solving” means using very specific “problem solving tools” such as fishbone charts, Pareto diagrams, histograms, etc. Since he didn’t see those specific tools being used, “they aren’t doing problem solving.”
But they are solving lots of problems – and that was clear.
Another C.I. director had the same complaint: If they aren’t documenting things on an A3 in a specific format, then they aren’t solving problems, or at least aren’t solving them effectively.
People have been solving problems experimentally for thousands of years. There have just been other ways to structure and document the process. I don’t think anyone who has a clue about the process they used could say that Wilbur and Orville Wright were “not doing problem solving” yet there is not a fishbone or Pareto chart in sight. Nope, they just meticulously documented their experiments, their predictions their results, and were laser focused on the problem they were trying to solve.
Saying people “aren’t doing problem solving” while acknowledging that they are solving problems doesn’t make sense to me, but I have heard it a few times.
Instead of trying to force the creative process through a specific template, how about pulling out the template as a helpful tool when it might help get something unstuck. In other words, for the tool itself – Exactly what problem are you trying to solve?