Problem Solving Session

The Tool and Why It’s Valuable

Team problem solving is a key differentiator of the Lean method. Groups that bring the right knowledge and the right attitude achieve impressive results. There are 3 major steps to facilitating a SOLVE Lean It! session: Prepare for the session, conduct the session, and close the session.

How to Apply It

Prepare for the Session:

  • Determine session purpose and deliverables (e.g. current state process map, prioritized solution ideas).
  • Develop a timed agenda for the session.
  • Manage logistics (e.g. room reservations, materials needed, invitations & communications to participants and relevant managers).
  • Setup the room prior to the participant’s arrival.

Conduct the Session:

  • Review agenda and ground rules.
  • Provide clear direction for exercises and use questions to guide the group.
  • Allow for discussion of topics but cut-off unproductive arguments or side-bars.
  • Document/record participant input.

Close the Session:

  • Review all activities/items produced during the session.
  • Thank participants.
  • Document and distribute.
Pearls and Pitfalls
  • Failure to prepare will result in an ineffective problem solving session and at worst will waste valuable resources (e.g. people’s time).
  • Remember to notify a participant’s manager of their staff member’s involvement in a Lean project. This will help to avoid conflicts.
  • For a successful session, build in setup, cleanup and documentation time.

3-Step Facilitation Process


Prepare for the session

  • Determine the session purpose and deliverables
  • Walk the process
  • Design the session
  • Manage logistics and pre-session communications
  • Prepare the room
  • Prepare your opening

Conduct the session

  • Open the session
  • Use questions
  • Provide good directions
  • Record participant input
  • Tools to stay on track
  • Manage dysfunction

Close the session

  • Review
  • Evaluate
  • Debrief
  • Close

Map current state

map current state

Ground Rules

  1. Participate
  2. One person one vote
  3. Respect
  4. One conversation
  5. No ringers, beepers
  6. Start/end on time
  7. Others
  8. Have fun!


  1. Introduction
  2. Current state process
  3. Problems/issues/root causes
  4. Improvement ideas
  5. Target state process
  6. Implementation plan

Action Items

What | Who | When | Decisions

Idea Prioritization

Issues/ Root cause