Bulletproof Problem Solving

Bulletproof Problem Solving, The One Skill That Changes Everything, by Charles Conn and Rob McLean, Wiley 2019

Have you noticed recently that government policy, as an in-your-face example, doesn't seem to translate well to effective or bulletproof problem solving? It might be possible, but what we are not seeing, for example, are real solutions to the US-Central America immigration challenge. We see the caravan photos, we hear the government dictum, we see emotionally charged photos of wire-jumping young men and kids in strollers headed North, but we hear little on the root cause of these migrations. But in manufacturing, root cause is our relentless goal because once we understand a problem there is hope that we can develop a creative and effective solution.

Well, here in Bulletproof Problem Solving authors Conn and McLean give it a great shot. Their work encompasses disciplined approaches that they render very visual, and from all this it's clear that they believe in A Solution, and they are willing to share the methodology. And it is fun! Conn and McLean have worked at McKinsey as well as the Rhodes Trust and start-ups. "Our work in consulting, in education, in entrepreneurship, and with social and environmental foundations has taught us one thing: we need to teach more creative thinkers about disciplined problem-solving. The approach introduced in the book allows anyone to solve any problem in a systematic manner. In most cases no specialist skills are required - and it works better in teams."

Let's look at the tools in Bulletproof Problem Solving. I loved Chapter 6, "Big Guns of Analysis." Most of us in manufacturing are familiar with root cause analysis and kaizen approaches, but what happens when we face a more complex problem that is described by volumes of seemingly unrelated data, one that requires a Big Guns solution? Analytics move in, and sometimes the data is overwhelming and more than a team can handle. This is where it all gets very interesting and powerful, and offers us the chance to be the first kid on the block.

Let's start with Chapter 6. The authors dedicate a lot of text to describing how to select an analysis approach, from data maps, to multiple regression, randomized control trials and model-based forecasting under uncertainty. Its clear that manufacturing leaders could easily in the face of massive data availability choose the wrong problem-solving method, the wrong model. But here is where these authors shine: for each of the nine possible data-based problem-solving approaches they offer a case study! I love it! From London air quality for data visualization, to Bayesian statistics as seen in the space shuttle Challenger disaster, to simulations via the climate change example, and game theory governing intellectual property and serving in tennis. Just this one chapter and these gorgeous examples are worth the cost of this book!

Further, there are so many fun illustrations and charts and graphs in this book readers could spend hours on the graphics alone. Look at Exhibit 6.3 as an example, "Median income, educational attainment and obesity "and tell me what you think! Ha! Love it! The Mill Girl nominates Bulletproof Problem Solving for Blue Heron Book of the Year. It's that important!

Patricia E. Moody

FORTUNE magazine "Pioneering Woman in Mfg"

IndustryWeek IdeaXchange Xpert

A Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal, on-line resource for business thought-leaders and decision-makers, pemoody@aol.com, patriciaemoody@gmail.com, tricia@patriciaemoody.com,