MRC - Manufacturers Resource Center


8-Step Problem Solving


Date(s) - March 10th, 2020 - March 11th, 2020
8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Kitchen Magic

8-Step Problem Solving:  How to Implement Continuous Improvement Thinking Into Your Culture

(Class is filled. If you wish to be on our wait list, please contact Diane Lewis at (610) 628-4578 or

March 10-11, 2020
8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Kitchen Magic
4243 Lonat Drive
Nazareth, PA 18064

image of people meeting for problem solving











This two-day course will be hosted at Kitchen Magic, located in Nazareth, PA.  In traditional cultures only the “six sigma black belts” or “highly skilled” problem solvers are looking at the day-to-day issues team members may have. There are so many problems and yet not enough of the “specialized people” to go around.  In Toyota’s culture the thinking is “Problem-Solving, Everybody-Everyday,” meaning we empower our people to make a difference in their own work areas. This is a powerful paradigm shift in how we do business in today’s industry. The 8-Step Problem Solving Process teaches how to unlock the extraordinary “brainpower” from everyone that makes the difference that could very well lead to improved company business indicators. It’s not only a process the team members learn but really an “expectation” of their job to think about improvements and not become complacent in their actions. The process used to strengthen problem solving skills is called the 8-Step Problem Solving Process, some know it as TBP or Toyota Business Practices.

Course Outline:
Day 1(AM) – (Values and Culture Segment) – discusses in detail the values that a company, along with its team members, should understand during their daily work activities and interactions. These values, principles and beliefs are centered on Continuous Improvement philosophies and Respect for People. Participants should see “Lean” as a way to do business (thinking) instead of a program. We will discuss Problem awareness /consciousness and will also introduce the “Tangible Actions” that give team members guidelines while they are using the problem-solving process to bring the company values “to life”. We will also focus the team member on “value added” activities that give the team member a “line of sight” to improving the company Hoshin (Business Plan) or KPI (Key Performance Indicator goals such as (Quality, Safety, Productivity and Cost) and to understand micro vs. macro PDCA thinking. Participants will be able to recognize gaps in their own environments/culture based on class discussion and exercises. Leadership roles and responsibilities will be discussed throughout with stories, activities and discussions.

We will cover the “Equation” from the book The Toyota Engagement Equation – GTS6 +E3=DNA as it pertains to the 8 steps and the thinking behind the culture/leadership standardized work. (Toyota’s thinking process during the early years.)

Day 1 (PM) – (8-Step Problem Solving Process/PDCA (aka Toyota Business Practices) – 8-Step Problem Solving that gives team members a systematic approach following the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Management System as a foundation to follow. This process gives the ability for all team members to look at problems “through the same lens” while giving the team member concrete actions to implement using their values. Primary focus is on the first 4 steps but all will be covered. The 8-Step Process is:

Step 1 – Clarify the Problem (framing) (GTS1-2)
• What should be happening
• What is currently happening?
• Shows measurable gap
• Aligns to purpose and Ultimate goal tied to KPI

Step 2 – Breakdown the Problem (GTS 2)
• Breakdown gap into manageable pieces
• Select prioritized problem
• Go see the process
• Find point of occurrence

Step 3 – Target Setting (GTS2)
• How much, by when, set to point of occurrence

Step 4 – Root Cause Analysis (GTS3)
• Potential Causes
• Investigate/verify at the Gemba
• Establish cause and effect
• Ask Why
• Select root cause(s)

Step 5 – Develop Countermeasures (GTS3)
• Brainstorm countermeasures
• Narrow with criteria matrix
• Implementation plan

Step 6 – See Countermeasures Through (GTS3)
• Report, Informing and Consulting Matrix
• 360-degree communication process

Step 7 – Monitor Process and Results (GTS3)
• Was target met?
• How much of the gap was eliminated with this prioritized problem?
• Evaluate 3 viewpoints

Step 8 – Standardize and Share Successful Practices (GTS4)
• Success Implementation
• Standardization process
• Start on next prioritized problem in Step 2

Participants in the Problem Solving session Day 1 will learn about:
• Keys to implementing a sustainable Problem Solving Culture focusing on the first 4 steps up to root cause analysis using the GTS Equation
• Introduction to the 4P’s (People, Process, Purpose, Problem Solving)
• The “People” side of Lean
• Problem Solving as a “thinking process” (not a special activity)
• Standardization process (DAMI- Define, Achieve, Maintain, Improve)
• Continuous Improvement mind-set (PDCA)
• The Values and Competencies necessary to sustain a Problem Solving culture.
• Line of sight (Activity to ensure value-added work alignment)
• Hoshin/Strategy Deployment (Key Performance Indicators-KPI)
• Developing a Problem Awareness
• 8 Step methodology and RCA and SDCA (Standardize-Do-Check-Act)
• Exercises/Case Study to demonstrate knowledge learned that day.
• A3 format to visualize the problem solving “thinking” process
• Introduction to problem solving flowchart template.
• Selection of problems to work on at the actual GEMBA to see the problems real-time. (pre-selection will happen before the session)
• Direct coaching and feedback working through your company’s pre-selected problem(s) at the gemba from Ernie and Tracey

The Gemba (A3) – provides the individual with a “format” to create a summarized document of their “thinking process” which follows PDCA and shares the “need to know” information about their report to others involved. We consider it the “Lean communication” tool (5S of information), saving time in reading a multi-page report versus a one page document. The report format we provide will follow the 8-step problem solving process. The A3 is a very dynamic tool that can also be used for:

• Strategy Deployment (of the business plan to the workforce)
• Asking the right questions at the Gemba to define processes
• Separation of the A3 tool versus the A3 process
• Coaching and Development Tool (Organizational Development)
• Problem Solving (Usage of the Problem Solving Flowchart)
• Gaining Consensus/Engagement/Buy-In (Nemawashi)
• Encouragement of Gemba (Actual work-area) visits (GO-SEE)
• Getting to Root cause rather than symptoms
• Establishing a common language for the organization

(At the process activity-) – The Day 2 will consist of working through a “real-life” problem for your company using the 8-Step Process learned in Day 1 of the training. (Steps 1-4 main focus) The participants will work in teams (4-5) and use the “GO and SEE” value asking the right questions “at the process” understanding the facts to complete their A3 while engaging and involving the workers. The instructor will coach each team through the process ensuring there is understanding before moving to the next step. The participants will report out their process to the other teams at the end of Day 2. The expectation is that the problem solving will continue by each participant after the training session ends. The participants will be asked to select problems in advance in order to have the data to support the current situation versus the Ideal.

The instructor will provide numerous A3 examples, handouts, coaching questions, and cheat-sheets in order for the participant to continue to practice and develop their own skills after the training session.

Cost: $1090/person  Funding may be available. Please contact Diane Lewis at (610) 628-4578 or to learn if you qualify.

Download Flyer

Tracey Richardson
President & Co-Owner
Ernie Richardson, Co-Owner
Teaching Lean, Inc.

Brief Bios:
Tracey Richardson has over 31 years of experience in Toyota methodologies including: Toyota Business Practices Problem Solving, Quality Circles, Lean Thinking, Standardized Work, Job Instruction Training, Toyota Production System, Toyota Way Values, Culture Development, Visualization (Workplace Management Systems), Continuous Improvement (Kaizen), Meeting Facilitation/Teamwork, and Manufacturing Simulations.

She is also on the faculty at the Lean Enterprise Institute and works with several different colleges and their Lean curriculums across the U.S.  She is on the faculty at Ohio State University helping facilitate the Master Business Operational Excellence Program. Her goal, whether inside or outside of Toyota, is to develop the capabilities of Team Members, Leadership, and Executives in Lean Thinking that will align their role with the company business plan (Hoshin). Tracey was in Management in the Plastics Department at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky from 1988-1998. She was one of the first team members hired with the fortunate opportunity to learn from the Japanese trainers getting hands on experience from the experts.Throughout her ten years at Toyota Tracey took various training courses to improve her abilities in the Toyota Production System and Continuous Improvement. She accumulated over 460 hours of class time and priceless lessons from her trainers/mentors.

Tracey is co-author of the Shingo Publication Prize winning, The Toyota Engagement Equation – Understanding and Implementing a continuous thinking environment for any organization.

Ernie Richardson joined Teaching Lean as a co-owner after his retirement from Toyota in Feb of 2013 to share his experiences learned from his people, Japanese trainers, Coordinators and Executive Coordinators in order to assist other companies on their Lean journey. He has over 1,380 hours of classroom, practical training and Japan Gemba Training with a combined time of over 1-year total in Japan. Ernie worked at IBM for 8 years before joining Toyota. Ernie is a Faculty member at the Lean Enterprise Institute, and works with several different colleges across the U.S. with their Lean curriculums. He is on the faculty at Ohio State University helping facilitate their Masters Business Operational Excellence program.

Ernie is co-author of – The Toyota Engagement Equation – How to understand and implement continuous improvement thinking in any organization.

Note: All registration fees must be received in advance of the date of your event. Also, MRC must be notified two weeks in advance of this event if you need to cancel, otherwise we can only grant a credit to another MRC event. Remember, you can also send a substitute.


Registrations are closed for this event.