Practical Problem Solving

VMT develop, design and produce printed Visual Management whiteboards for a many diverse purposes. One very common purpose for the Visual Management Boards we supply is to facilitate a structured process for problem solving.

In theory Problem Solving should be an easy process of defining what the problem is and taking actions to resolve the problem. However, without the use of a structured problem solving method there’s a lot of potential for non-value added wasteful activity. The use of a Practical Problem Solving Visual Management board ensures a reduction in time wasted on debate using opinions and theories and ensures uniform definitions are applied and a structured series of steps for solving problems.


What is Practical Problem Solving process?


Practical Problem Solving is successful when made up of several key elements.

  • A structured approach to problem solving – performed the same way across an organisation. This structure includes well known standard problem solving tools such as the 5 Why process and Ishikawa (or Fishbone) cause and effect diagram.
  • Having a clear definition of what is and what isn’t a problem – usually something is a problem if it deviates from a set standard or creates a gap between a desired outcome and what is actually happening.
  • Acquiring good data – the problem solving process involves making decisions on courses of actions based on data and information. If the data isn’t good, it’s likely the action won’t be good and the problem will persist.
  • Open minds and reflection – It’s important when undertaking Practical Problem Solving activity that investigation and actions aren’t influenced by what we think is happening, we remain open to all possibilities. Reflection and sharing feedback allows other to learn from the activity which is essential for continuous improvement.


So, now we’ve established what Practical Problem is and what the key elements are, let’s have a look at the benefits of using a Visual Management board to facilitate the Practical Problem Solving process.


Why use a Visual Management board for your Practical Problem Solving Process?


The use of a Visual Management board to facilitate the Practical Problem Solving process has several key benefits:

  • Communication – The board provides a visual snapshot of the status of the process, showing all what the impact of the problem is, what is believed to be the root cause and what is being done to rectify the issue.
  • Gemba/Point of problem – Using a Visual Management board encourages discussion and analysis to take place at the point of the problem, minimising the use of opinions and theories and maximising the use of facts and data.
  • Drive the activity – When used as part of a team activity a Visual Management board encourages the practice of individuals agreeing to take away actions to progress, that are tracked on the board.
  • Educate – A Practical Problem Solving Visual Management board is an excellent tool to coach team members through the structured problem solving process and as a result enhancing the team’s Lean culture.


We have had excellent feedback on our Practical Problem Solving Visual Management boards. Some of the comments we hear focus on how useful it is to have a standard tool for undertaking problem solving and how the boards encourage accountability and proactivity.


If you have an interest and would like to know more please get in touch, or view more visual management boards at