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Aligning Problem Solving With Strategy

Nik Taylor,

11th March, 2024


In today’s fast-paced business landscape, aligning problem-solving activities with strategic objectives is paramount to unleashing the full potential of your organization. It’s not just about finding solutions; it’s about creating capacity, driving customer value, and fostering colleague engagement. However, many organizations fall into the trap of adopting problem-solving tools without considering how they fit into the bigger picture.

Case Study: The Park – Encirc, a Large Wine Manufacturer in Bristol

At The Park – Encirc, a leading wine manufacturer in Bristol, they’ve embraced a strategic approach to problem-solving. They’ve established a golden thread of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that cascade from executives to the front line. For instance, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) isn’t just a metric; it’s a driver of cost, cash flow, and capacity. The emphasis on OEE aligns with Kotter’s model of change, focusing on creating a climate for change and communicating a burning platform.

Aligning Problem-Solving Across Levels

To ensure problem-solving efforts are aligned with organizational strategy, Encirc has implemented a tiered approach:

  1. Executive Level: Strategic initiatives such as Black Belt, Agile, or Prince projects aim to improve OEE. These projects are informed by bottom-up trends and improvements and reviewed quarterly by site leadership.
  2. Mid-tier: Process improvement projects like A3 DMAIC are implemented to address OEE based on weekly and monthly trends. These initiatives are periodically reviewed by operations leadership.
  3. Front Line: Task-based improvements, such as the 3C approach, are conducted every three hours on the front line. These efforts are tracked and monitored through a line-based improvement system, feeding into a daily review the next morning.

Building Problem-Solving Capabilities

Encirc invests in developing problem-solving skills throughout the organization. They utilize the Park Lean Academy to train White Belts, Yellow Belts, Green Belts, and Black Belts. Additionally, they reinforce problem-solving habits through leader standard work and Gemba walks, integrating problem-solving sessions into daily routines.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

By prioritizing daily problem-solving activities and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, Encirc has witnessed remarkable results. Teams have experienced incremental improvements in OEE, increased engagement levels, and enhanced skills. The capacity released through these improvements is reinvested into further continuous improvement initiatives.


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