12 Week Eight Step Problem Solving Course 

Prepared by/Honsha.ORG

Recognizing that problem solving is the common link in all job descriptions at every level of the organization, the State of Colorado is embarking on increasing problem-solving proficiency.  The reason organizations exist is to solve our customer’s problems with our product or service.  Once we understand this fundamental truth we can all agree to focus on solving problems internally, so our customers benefit externally.    

For years Toyota struggled to develop and spread a common problem solving methodology internally.  As they grew into a global company each new location altered the basic PDCA method until there were many versions.  In response Toyota developed the 8 Step method to advance a common language across all functions, Sales, Administration, Manufacturing, R&D, etc. and in all global locations.  Now all Toyota team members in the world can be coached and coach others with one common method.

In this workshop we will explore the 8 Step method and learn how we can transform our agencies using similar thinking and actions.  We will also learn to utilize the A3 format to tell our problem-solving story.


Honsha Video - Results achieved for state agency clients


Workshop Outline

The Lean Business Practice  - Eight Step Problem Solving

This section explores problem solving at 3 levels of the organization, Senior Management, Middle management and the Front Lines.  We will understand how our leaders and participants roles in problem solving contribute to the development of a problem-solving culture.

Mindset and Behaviors necessary for Problem Solving

In this section we will gain the understanding that we must develop the mindset and behaviors that will contribute to our becoming excellent problem solvers and learners. 

The Eight Steps

Utilizing case studies, we will learn how to use each step of the process to:

  1. Clarify the problem. Determine the gap between the current and desired situation; Clear, concise, measurable. 
  2. Break the problem down; Based on facts, break down the problem and clarify objectives; Utilize proper division points to break down the problem.
  3. Set a target - Set clear and measurable targets that address the Gap.
  4. Understand root causes - Based on facts gathered through Go and See, keep asking “Why?”
  5. Develop countermeasures - Develop multiple solutions, choose the best one.
  6. Implement countermeasures - Plan and implement countermeasures.
  7. Check results and process - Evaluate from three key viewpoints: customer’s, agency, and your own.
  8. Standardize the processes - Standardize the successful processes and recognize those involved.

The cost for this workshop is $3058.00 per participant.



What is Eight-Step Problem Solving?

Eight-Step Problem Solving is taught as part of the State of Colorado’s SOLVE framework in our Lean training. Augmenting our SOLVE framework, Eight-Step Problem Solving is an in-depth, structured way of identifying and solving problems. It is simple and practical enough to handle a variety of problems, from those of the smallest nature to those that are quite complex. It allows teams and organizations to have a common understanding of what defines a problem and what steps to take to efficiently overcome the problem. Ultimately, Eight-Step Problem Solving supports a change in mindset and helps build a culture of continuous improvement, while answering the Governor’s Talent Challenge by creating an agency of highly skilled problem solvers.

Eight-Step Problem Solving Tackles

  • Improving an inefficient process
  • Decreasing document wait times
  • Increasing reimbursement rates
  • Decreasing rework or defects
  • Decreasing response time for applications or permits
  • Reducing waste and inefficiencies
  • Removing obstacles or barriers
  • Increasing performance
  • Clarifying work processes
  • Improving cross-department relationships 

What types of problems will be best suited for learning Eight-Step Problem Solving in 16 weeks?

The problem selected should meet the following prerequisites…

  • For the selected issue to be considered a problem, we must be obtaining a deviation from an existing standard (target or plan), norm or requirement.
  • Initial data is available to quantify what we know about the problem. (If data is not available or needs to be collected, the team may not be able to measure and quantify the problem.)
  • The phenomenon or occurrence should be occurring frequently. (Otherwise, the team may not know in a timely manner if they are having a positive impact on the problem – or not.)
  • The problem should be within the problem-solving group’s scope to influence and change (Otherwise, potential solutions proposed may not be executable by the team, leaving implementation of solutions outside of the team’s reach.)
  • The problem should be important to the agency (otherwise team members’ time requirements may be pulled in other directions during the project, because other topics have a “higher priority”.)

Problems that keep you up at night or cause you to feel exasperated due to their seemingly unsolvable or sometimes solvable nature.  Of course, not every agency or team has problems of this magnitude. The right size problem usually is something in which the group can implement solutions without needing a policy change review, which requires waiting for a periodic committee meeting or larger governance body to act before the solutions can be implemented.  Talk to your supervisor and/or group to identify a problem that, if solved, would make your and your team’s work-life more fulfilling.  Ask your team what they would change if they were in charge for a day.

What training methods are used to transfer understanding to participants?

Honsha takes a team approach to training. Each problem-solving team will have three days of classroom instruction, combined with optional coaching sessions. In total, these sessions are spread out over a three-month timeframe. Additionally, as Honsha’s training focuses heavily on the experience of “learning by doing,” the teams will also meet, between the classroom and coaching sessions, for time to work on their specific problem(s).  

  • Each month, team members will learn two steps of the Eight-Step Problem Solving technique.
  • Teams will review case studies that demonstrate effective strategies, and will then apply those strategies to each group’s problem(s).
  • As part of each “Team Work Session” (not classroom or coaching by Honsha), team members will be encouraged to continue to work on the portion of the Eight-Step they previously learned.
  • At the beginning of each subsequent classroom session, each team will have the opportunity to present their work. In Honsha’s experience, hearing and seeing how different problems are solved from different teams enhances and significantly augments each team member’s experience and ability to see.
  • Midway though each month, Honsha will meet with each team for a two-hour coaching session.
  • Problem-solving groups’ supervisors will check in for status updates at the end of the coaching sessions. This check in ensures the team is supported in working on the problem and allows the supervisor to remove obstacles the team identifies quickly. See Table on question 5.

What is the timing of classroom, working, and coaching sessions?

Training begins with one eight-hour class per month for three consecutive months. Teams may also elect to have additional coaching during their time that gives them additional support and resources.  The team stays cohesive throughout the 12-week period - meeting the same day for both classroom and coaching sessions for the entire training. See table below:

How much time will I be involved solving my assigned problem?

Over three months, team members can expect to spend between 24-36 hours in training and coaching sessions, depending upon the amount of information readily available, and the size of the problem assigned or selected to solve. Additionally, as teams meet independently, additional time will be required – approximately 18 – 24 hours, depending on how the team would like to conduct their independent work sessions.  

What happens if a team-member misses a classroom session?

Participants unable to attend with their group on the scheduled classroom day may attend a different classroom session with teams other than their own. This is less desirable because the breakouts during the Honsha training day will be used to advance work of the teams attending on their scheduled day.

What is the executive overview and why is it delivered before the groups’ first coaching session?

The executive overview is a 60-minute session which informs leaders (group supervisors) of their roles: ensuring groups set aside time for their team’s weekly work sessions and attending the group’s report-outs. The overview equips supervisors to avoid common pitfalls in tasking a group to solve problems and conveys strategies for supporting the group’s success. (this is an optional elective on not mandatory for completion)

Why do I need to work with a group rather than working on a problem alone?

Joining with at least two people (one from outside of the area of the problem) ensures participants maintain the discipline to go through each problem-solving step rather than solution jumping.

Why do we include someone directly affected by the problem and someone from outside the problem on the team?

A third-party perspective compliments the analysis of the problem and broadens the list of potential countermeasures. Staff fulfilling this role on a group come away understanding how getting others involved improves the problem-solving process.

How many people from my group need to be at the training?

Your entire group attends the classroom and working sessions together. Minimum group size is 3, to ensure no one ends up attending a classroom session alone due to an unplanned group member’s absence.

If a team member works in a very small group. There’s only one other team member who’s available to come to the training. Can we still come?

Yes. It’s best if the whole group participates. However, we understand that this is not always practicable.  Honsha has built in a process to address this situation.  If there is only one person from a group able to attend a classroom session, they will join another group for the breakouts and need to advance their group’s problem solving as homework.