11 A Few Key Tools

In this chapter we'll explore a few of the tools of the trade that get pulled out of the box on a regular basis. This is not an exhaustive list of all the tools available in the world of Lean and Six Sigma – that alone would fill all the space available in this entire book more than twice over. Also, I won't provide a comprehensive explanation of how each of these tools is used, so you'll have to be content with a brief explanation of what it is and what it applies to. The only exception to this is Rhythm, which I bang on about at quite some length, probably because it is really simple and very good at solving a perennial production problem, but rarely heard of and often misunderstood. A less important reason might be because I was one of the four people who thought up the idea one afternoon in a Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) office in Philadelphia back in 1996!

While a lot of the examples are more about a work environment, I've tried to relate to everyday use as well where it makes sense. So, here we go.

Diagnostic tools

In this first section I'm going to focus on some “diagnostic” tools. What I mean by that is the tools that will help you understand what is currently going on and to design the new world. Later I'll comeon to the “implementation” tools, which can be used to put the new design in place, monitor it and provide the feedback to keep everything going.

5 Whys

This is a very simple technique that I'm sure most people already ...

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