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A Section from "The Continuous Improvement Development Guide"

Volume 5: Ramping Up >

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Structure Your Thinking (Principle)

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Most people base the way they think on fight or flight. In the early days of cavemen, people had only those two basic reactions to a problem. How they chose to respond to an event was based primarily on its similarity to something they had seen before. In their situation, it made sense to do this because many situations were a matter of life and death.

In the modern world, though, people are seldom strapped for time in the same manner. Yet they often use the same basic mechanics for coming up with a solution. They make quick assessments based on what they had seen before and choose from one of the first responses that come to mind. As your organization evolves on its continuous improvement path, those quick responses are no longer good enough. The bar will have been raised so high that most simple problems will have been eliminated. The problems your organization faces will be more significant and more complicated. Teams will need a structured process to solve them.

That will require a substantial understanding of the problem, complete with a clear problem definition and significant data collection. The PDCA cycle, DMAIC, and 8D are all structured ways of thinking. In addition to helping teams come up with better solutions, these processes make it easier to communicate what was done.


CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’


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