Having trouble deciding what to do?
Some lean math can help!
Resources are not infinite. Often we have more improvement opportunities to work on than we can accommodate. A simple but powerful prioritization matrix can help us sort things out.
First, record the countermeasure for each opportunity (a.k.a. problem) on its own individual Post-it Note®. Then, typically, as a team, arrange the Post-its on the following matrix according to expected impact (as “measured” against things like team KPI targets or kaizen event targets) and how quickly they can be implemented.
The countermeasures within the upper left quadrant are the ones to attack first.
For those readers who prefer a more mathematically process for making decisions, there are a series of weighted matrix schemes to aid in the decision making process. My personal favorite is a variant of the Kepner-Tregoe Decision Matrix.
In this approach, each possible option is given a score based on several user selected weighted criteria. If we were to use this to determine which countermeasures to work on first, the matrices may look something like the following:
The uppermost matrix deals with the “Must” criteria. Each idea must be safe and legal. If it isn’t, then it is dropped from consideration and there is no need to assign any scores to that idea.
For those ideas that meet the “Must” criteria, the next two matrices assign scores for timing (the lower the score, the sooner the idea can be implemented) and impact (the higher the score, the higher the impact). In each section, the criteria and their weighting factors (W/Fs) are selected by the team evaluating the ideas.
The corresponding chart of the countermeasures in this case is:
This graph can then be segregated as before into High/Low impact and Now/Later timing.
Not to over-think this blog entry on thinking, but there is another decision making process worth mentioning. It is called “analytic hierarchy process.”
The math behind this process is a bit complex, but fortunately there are software programs available that are specifically designed for this. The benefits of analytic hierarchy process include its rigor, consistency, and transparency.
While techniques can be valuable for aiding decision making, none of them should be replace sound engineering judgment and good old common sense.