At bottom, lean thinking is about being able to frame the problem, arrive at root causes, generate original ideas that surgically attack those root causes with practical and effective countermeasures, evaluating the results, then start the cycle all over – yes, I just described Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA).
The step when root causes have been identified and countermeasures are considered requires generating original ideas, or brainstorming. Often, it’s a type of brainstorming that is focused because the goal is to generate a countermeasure that will surgically reduce or eliminate the said root cause.
For this step, the Issue Tree can be a helpful tool to use. There are other frameworks, such as the Profit Tree that can help you depending on the problem at hand.
Issue Trees is a helpful brainstorming tool because:
- They uncover a wide range of potential ideas
- The output of Issue Trees are mutually exclusive and comprehensively exhaustive (MECE)
- Issue Trees emphasize the “how” an outcome can be reached
Let’s suppose you wish to answer the following question:
How can I persuade her to fall in love with me?
Using an Issue Tree, our output might look like this:
It’s a silly example, but you get the point.
This is not like root cause analysis because the point of an Issue Tree is to uncover all potential possibilities; with root cause analysis, your goal is to uncover all potential root causes, but the universe of root causes is limited, whereas the universe in an issue tree is wider and more comprehensive.
Try using the Issue Tree in your next A3 Problem Solving project. Perhaps using it will help you generate original ideas and better arm you and your team to attack the root causes you identify with more effective countermeasures.