This is a very important step and we often don’t take the time to investigate what the root of the issue is, jumping straight to the solution.
The trouble with this approach is that ‘quick fix’ solutions may not address the real cause, leading to the problem reoccurring or even getting worse.
Finding the cause is easier if you work through a systematic process.
Process for identifying the Real Cause
- Working as a team, describe the problem in more detail
e.g. a high number of cows coming up lame. Despite everyone being really careful to follow best practice when bringing the cows in, the problem seems to be getting worse not better.
- Gather evidence or data to help with decision making
e.g. are the lame cows showing up with white line, stone bruising, sole penetration? How many cows with each type of lameness, what % of lame cows are coming from each herd?
- Brainstorm the real cause by asking 'why' questions.
- Keep asking 'why' questions until you all agree that you have identified the real problem.
- Write down the real cause on your Waste Hunt worksheet.
- The real issue can be hidden behind perceived issues or symptoms. The risk is that we address the symptom and the real cause doesn’t get resolved. Stay focused on finding the real cause.
Eliminate or minimise?
Now decide if it is possible to eliminate or minimise the waste.
Means there is an obvious, low cost, solution to remove the waste.
E = Eliminate the waste immediately – this is a good option for any problem that can be solved quickly through a low cost solution.
- moving items that you use all the time closer to where they are used - reduces search and time waste.
- writing up the jobs for the next day before you finish work, so staff don’t need to wait or go hunting for a manager to find out what to do – reduces search and time waste.
- getting a second scrubbing brush so more than one person can clean at once – reduces time waste.
- fix the yard wash or backing gate if it isn’t working properly – reduces time waste.
If more time or cost is required to implement your change, you may choose to minimise temporarily until a long term solution can be put in place.
M = Minimise the waste until you can resolve it later – this is a good option for problems that require a more technical solution, investigation into best solution or some expenditure to resolve. It may be possible to apply a temporary low cost solution.
- resurfacing the entry or exit into the dairy to improve cow flow.
- Anything that requires an infrastructure upgrade.
Once you have completed the above, you are now ready to move on to Step 4...
Step 4 - Reducing waste, getting organised
A big chunk of your waste can be solved by setting up better systems and getting organised. This week focuses on getting organised.