Lean Coffee Recap 01/18 (Next 02/22)

New Year, New Solutions!

Welcome to the new year! Time to shake off the holidays, stretch a bit, and get back into the flow at work. This month’s Lean Coffee attendees came ready with tough business problems to discuss. Let’s dig right in with last meeting’s top topic!

What is the best problem solving tool for non-process oriented people to use?

A big challenge is often translating shop talk of lean methodologies to employees who aren’t trained in lean thinking. In this case, how can we implement/define a problem solving strategy for employees to follow without much training? Standard processes like A3 sheets may be too much to grasp quickly. Lean Coffee offered a few solutions, but concluded the following may be the best approach:

A Lean Coffee attendee previously introduced and used a four box approach he found on Katie Anderson’s blog at his company. The template on Katie’s blog easily leads untrained employees through thinking about a process problem and how to solve it by asking four questions:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is causing the problem? (5 whys exercise to find root causes)
  3. Based on data, which root causes are most significant?
  4. What actions can address each root cause?

What Lean Coffee liked about the tool is that it is easy for anyone to understand how to use (no lingo needed), implemented one new concept for untrained employees (5 whys), and it provided structure for how employees should solve problems at the company.

One improvement suggested for this tool when using it to solve complex problems is to add a fifth box or element that links the four box to other four boxes. Doing so will give you the ability to create a map/tree of four boxes that will help leaders understand complex problems, all powered by employees following the simple process.

Thirsty for More?

Any one, even including “I have no idea what I’m doing here; what’s Lean?” folks, is welcome to join us at Lean Coffee! Swing by our next meeting on February 22nd (2/22/2022 2018) at 5pm at Fante’s Coffee and join the discussion on a wide range of business topics including these issues from last meeting:

  • Ideas for starting to manage a project “in flight” with no previous project management
  • Implementing Process Frameworks/Software at Work
  • How do you share best practices at one office across all offices at multiple locations?
  • How do you keep yourself productive?
  • How do you evaluate feasibility of last minute change orders?


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Lean Coffee Recap 01/18 (Next 02/22)

  1. Happy to hear that you are finding value in spreading problem solving thinking using the simple 4-box method. Thanks for sharing your suggestions for improvements to the process on how to link the countermeasures to the other 4 boxes. Do you have an example that you would be willing to share of how you are using this in action? I’d like to include a link on my website describing the tool and process. Keep up the experimentation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • nrarmen says:

      Hey Katie, not sure if you’ll get a notification or see this reply, but thank you for the comment and for reaching out. I’ll track down the guy who told us about the 4 box iteration and help make that connection. -Nathan


      • Hi Nathan – I signed up for email alerts for any additional comments so I got your message. Thanks for the follow-up. Would be great to connect with the person who had the improvement idea. Thanks, Katie


  2. Tony Lucas says:

    I tried to go today, but the fire at Fante’s prevented me from going. Looking forward to try it again next month.


    • nrarmen says:

      Hey Tony, thanks for making it out. It was unfortunate. Are you on our mailing list? If so, we’ll pick a new date (tentatively March 22nd, but not official) and let everyone know. Looking forward to meeting you at the next one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s