In continuation of these blog postings (From the Archives of a Common Sensei), volume 25 discusses how we approached Problem Solving during those early days (early 1990’s) while developing Toyota Industrial Equipment. The documents included here are pre-computerization and clearly demonstrate we didn’t need everything computerized – especially problem solving!  The attached documents are in their rough condition but, are actual examples of a systematic method used for problem resolution, particularly in the following areas:

On the document entitled Procedure for Problem Solving, we have provided the procedural flow guideline for problem solving, especially for Managers and other Leaders (of course in conjunction with all those affected).  On the slide marked Problem Solving Activity, we provide a look at the process used to evaluate and resolve problems and advance opportunities.

Additional documents included provide examples of the Kaizen Activity Report (before and after changes), the Kaizen Report Format, The Bi-Weekly Report of Activity, and the Implementation Schedule for Policy Management.  The Implementation Schedule for Policy Management is used to track the various tasks against established policies of Cost, Quality, Delivery, Safety, and Morale. Additionally, it keeps track of the method, target dates, person/in charge, and lays it out in a schedule for tracking simplification.

The documents in this volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei we feel it is essential to stress that although the documents included here are not the prettiest, they are valued examples that can show you the basics of value-added problem solving (resolution).  Standardized use of these documents (or similar) will aid in the development of a true problem solving (love those opportunities) culture.  As your organization matures, it will become stronger because of standardized problem solving as described here.

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In this volume 23 of “From the Archives of a Common Sensei” we will discussThe Intention of Developing a Management  Planning Process”. We will follow this discussion with volume 24 in which we will discuss more in depth development ofThe Framework of an Organizations Plan”. As with previous blog articles in this series, most (including this volume) are drawn from work I did back in the early 90’s while developing the Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM) facility in Columbus, Indiana. The contents and approach contained within this article could today be called Hoshin Kanri or Management Deployment. Back in those early days of Toyota Thinking in the US, I simply called it “Focus Alignment”! To me, it seemed on target with what we were trying to accomplish by gaining a targeted focus and making sure we had alignment throughout the entire organization. Besides, at that time, there seemed to be more resistance to using Japanese terms for practices used in the US. My experience was a mixture of introducing new and foreign concepts and simultaneously building a new manufacturing facility. Add to this the hiring of American staff who were amenable to learning new concepts and principles, while also helping the Japanese staff acclimate to Americans and our traditional way of working. All this while also making sure that their families had favorable transitions to their new community (thanks to my wife for making this a reality).

During these early days and today the planning process (and principles driving it) is the foundation on which success has been realized. For reader simplification, I have broken this topic into two separate but combined discussions. In volume 23 we discuss The Intention of Developing a Planning Process” and in volume 24 we will go into more detail on “The Framework of an Organizations plan”. Please keep in mind that today, three decades later, many of us might take these practices for granted, but not so typical then (and maybe not even today😊)! One additional thought: while reading this volume 23 and the next volume 24, read it as appropriate for your organization. By this I mean, DON’T get hung up on the fact that this process was created for an early US Toyota manufacturing organization. These practices are every bit as appropriate for any organization! In fact, I have applied them in nearly every business sector and government.

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