John Crossan | Manufacturing Ownership Blog
Focused Improvement Facilitation Training

A facilitated problem solving or process improvement session working with a cross functional plant team (managers, maintenance personnel, operating personnel) to address a significant waste issue.

Two Purposes:

  • Obviously driving to improving the the issue at hand.
  • Providing training and building value for a focused process, so that it will get ongoing use.

There are always improvements identified in these sessions, that lead to significant improvement. It is simply a matter of creating a forum where collective knowledge and ideas can be brought out, organized, and paths forward agreed on.


  1. Have the group identify sustainable solutions to a specific issue or sustainable improvement to a specific process.
  2. Have the group learn a process to systematically understand issues, identify the causes and develop effective sustainable solutions to them.
  3. Work with the group to develop understanding and buy-in to the processes and procedures that need to be in place to prevent these issues occurring and recurring
  4. Provide an example of how to properly facilitate these sessions to get all parties involved and participating effectively.

Key Points

  • Effective facilitation is not just driving a process, using elite participants, to get to a technical solution. Rather it is providing a structured discussion forum with a variety of participants, that will lead to an effective sustainable result (which might be something different).
  • Once the work of developing a detailed understanding of the issue has been done, for most problems, the causes and solutions tend to fall out fairly readily.
  • Rigidly driving a process and not taking the time to entertain some contributary somewhat off process discussion leads to a less effective solution and much less buy in to the result.
  • An effective facilitator must absolutely check their own ego at the door. The process is not about them proving anything about themselves to the group, but only about helping the group get to effective solutions.
  • The facilitator must always completely respect the contributions of the participants while guiding the process.
  • Effective facilitation can best be described as "herding" rather than "leading" A crisply executed process, while perhaps intellectually satisfying, is seldom effective in getting to a sustainable solution..
  • Effective facilitators strike an effective, acceptable balance between forward progress in the process, (to satisfy the impatient) and taking the necessary time to develop issues.
  • Every successful plant must have routine processes in place to effectively develop sustainable solutions to issues on an ongoing basis. These can be quite rapid for smaller issues, but the same principles apply
  • Doing the mostly communication work of gathering detailed facts to really understand the issue, is by far the bulk of the effort.
  • This cannot be just the quick work of an elite team of experts. Widespread involvement through seeking input to understand the issue, propose causes and endorse solutions is vital for sustaining solutions.