Five tools to get to the heart of a problem

Some problems are so complex that many organizations find it difficult to provide a structured insight into the root causes of their problem. A number of causes are quickly found, but they do not appear to be at the root of the problem or are a work-around for the result of the problem. Resolving these causes does not remove the problems, it merely displaces them. Moreover, the first consequences are already clearly visible, but it is still unknown what further consequences this will have. How do you solve this?

Many companies we visit have problems that are difficult to solve. For example, we recently alignment created by applying Group Model Building. With the help of this tool, the discussion was conducted about 'aligning' a project organization. How do you ensure that everyone not only knows the project goals, but also lives and acts on them? However, GMB is just one of the many tools we use to help our customers with complex issues. An overview of four tools that we use regularly.


One effective method to streamline (production) processes and eliminate waste is the Japanese Kaizen improvement method. The naturally Japanese method is based on improving by continuously progressing in small steps. By means of a Kaizen event you apply the Kaizen methodology in practice to one or more processes. The focus is on improving a specific process or solving an urgent problem. A multidisciplinary team of stakeholders from all layers of the organization comes together to design and immediately implement improvements to a particular process or work area. This leads to fast results and a unique learning experience. For example, a problem is tackled from head to tail in the short term, integrated, chain-wide solutions are found and various departments work together on the end result.

Group Model Building

GMB is a method by which group one system is mapped. Just like the human body repairs itself, for example when you have a wound, an organization is also a self-healing system. That explains why a situation occurs more often when the root cause of a problem is not removed. The original situation is restored, just like with a wound. In complex situations, for which GMB is suitable, created insight into the current situation, which clarify the root causes of a problem.


With the Fishbone diagram, or Ishikawa diagram, it is possible to elaborate cause-effect analysis to be carried out. This tool identifies the possible causes of a problem. One of Supply Value's areas of expertise is chain collaboration and this tool is ideal for achieving this. All stakeholders involved in the problem in the process join one or more workshops in order to look at a specific problem integrally from the chain and to identify root causes. You think of possible causes about five different cause categories: Human, Method, Material, Machine and Environment. It is important to draw attention to the chain of causes, whereby you find out the sub-causes of causes. In this way you can identify the 'root cause' and tackle the problem effectively at the root.

Create alignment in a team through 4 workshops

Value Stream Mapping

In Value Stream Mapping (VSM), the material and information flows visualized. In addition, process information such as lead times, changeover times, waiting times, stocks and problems is also displayed. This makes it clear to everyone where there are opportunities for improvement in the processes. This first map of the current situation is called IST situation. When the IST situation has been recorded, a SOLL situation is created. As the name suggests, this is the desired situation. This contains a process that is focused on customer demand, without bottlenecks. The differences between the IST and the SOLL can also be easily picked out, after which one can get to work on solving them.

Event Mapping

Situations where both the (root) causes and the (end) consequences of a problem are unclear, and where the relationship between causes is also unclear, require a smart analysis method: Event Mapping. With Event Mapping you go with a group of experts of the process or specific problem looking for the relationships between all the different variables, both causes and effects. The starting point is a key moment in the process, for example 'receiving a customer complaint', after which you look for all elements that are related to this in a number of sessions. From the key point, the group looks for causes step by step by going back in the process. Then they move forward in the process, looking for the further consequences of a customer complaint. With this information, solutions can then be sought for both the (root) causes and the (end) consequences.

Want to know more?

Interested in any of these tools? We are happy to provide some more information about this during a (digital) cup of coffee or during one of our  master classes about these types of tools and their application. Does your organization already have a complex problem that you could use some help with? Contact Supply Value via 088 0555 999 or