What Is a Countermeasure?
Often, problems will arise in a production process that cannot be immediately resolved in a proper way. “Proper” in this context refers to identifying the root cause of the problem and dealing with it at the source.
Depending on the complexity of the system, this may sometimes require a complete rework of some of its components. While that must be eventually done in order to ensure that operations can continue to evolve, it’s often also necessary to stop the problem from occurring for the time being.
Countermeasures and solutions
A solution is a state where a problem has been eliminated for good. It removes the problem at its root cause. On the other hand, a countermeasure is a step taken against a problem in a more immediate sense. Countermeasures may sometimes be inelegant and even somewhat clumsy. The important part is that they get rid of the symptoms of the problem effectively enough to allow the rest of the process to continue smoothly.
On the other hand, it’s important to understand that a countermeasure is not a simple tweak. It can have much more far-reaching consequences for the project, especially if it’s properly understood by those applying it.
A good countermeasure can help identify the root cause of a problem much more easily, even though it’s not aimed at addressing it. This can be particularly true in cases where a problem may have multiple root causes behind it. In that situation, it’s even more important to explore the way different countermeasures may impact the situation.
Countermeasures help your team grow
Due to the way countermeasures are applied, and the thinking approach required to implement them, your team can often gain a lot of experience in the process. New insights into the working structure of the organization may be made, leading to even greater improvements down the road.
In addition, teams are often forced to think outside the box when it comes to finding a good countermeasure to a problem, and this can create some interesting situations. Searching for a countermeasure is one of the quickest ways to test everyone’s wits and identify the creative thinkers. It can also encourage others to be more analytical in their approach to work.
The importance of good countermeasures
Of course, this all assumes that countermeasures are applied properly, and in the correct sense of the term. Not every immediate solution to a problem is a countermeasure. Learning the main ideas behind countermeasures, and how to separate them from improper short-term solutions is not an easy task, but it can have far-reaching consequences.
There is still some confusion over what exactly constitutes a countermeasure, and when something is actually a solution rather than one. As we said above, it can take some time to properly grasp the differences and learn to apply good countermeasures to any given situation. But the impact this can have on a team and its production process in the long term is something that should be taken very seriously.
Another important detail that must be understood is that countermeasures are not mutually exclusive with final solutions. They can be seen as a “band aid” to a problem, resolving it for the time being, but still leaving open the option to deal with the issue in a proper way.
That’s one of the critical areas to look at when defining a countermeasure. If something has the potential to block further improvements to the situation, then it’s not a good countermeasure and should be avoided. On the contrary, if something looks like it will actually lay the foundations for a proper solution, the team is properly on the right track.
It can be tricky to define the essence of a good countermeasure, and to learn to identify them in any given process. But it’s also one of the critical components of a good lean manufacturing process, and the use of countermeasures is an inevitability.
Gathering regular input from the team is one of the best ways to develop good habits for coming up with countermeasures. Proper communication is one of the key components in a good lean organization in the first place, so this makes sense.
Training the team to be more responsive to external factors, and to take appropriate action when necessary, can be invaluable in the long run, and it can lead to the development of proper solutions when they are necessary. Reaching a solution where there is no problem, and the underlying causes have been eliminated, doesn’t have to be a tricky ordeal when one knows how to apply countermeasures in the first place.