Lean Manager’s Problem Solving Techniques: CEDAC

Lean management is a philosophy of management where there is continuous improvement across the board for the processes used in a company. Unlike traditional management where the emphasis is on creating a product or in providing a service, lean management treats operations as a daily exercise in problem solving. From a problem solving standpoint, the problem is not production or service, instead the problem is providing the best processes of production. In this manner, there is continuous improvement in the product and services, and in lessening or totally eradicating waste. CEDAC is one among many lean manager’s problem solving techniques which provides management a tool for continuous improvement.

CEDAC stands for “cause and effect diagram with the addition of cards.” It was first developed in Sumitomo Electric Industries of Japan during the 1970s. Since then it has been used in various North American, European and Japanese manufacturing companies. The core of the technique is the CEDAC board. Like most lean management techniques, the CEDAC board is an easy to understand tool, which can be used by anyone in the organization. In addition, it is graphic, easily understood, and provides an at a glance view of the problem and solution. It was designed to be easy to understand and implement because it had to be used across all levels of the organization. It was participatory in nature, and depended a lot on input and expertise from experienced shop personnel. The problem solving was mainly done on the shop floor, where the people who knew most about the problem were located.

The board and tool can be applied to various situations or problems. It can be used for a system setup, product quality evaluation, customer complaints, design problems and reworks, for communications issues, as well as for downtime problems.

The board allows the stakeholders to properly define the problem in terms which all the members can understand.  These include the differentiation between the cause and effect, the problem and the effect, the target and its effects. It also clarifies the fact statements from improvement statements. This provides an understanding of the problem itself.

The CEDAC board dissected the problem and the issues to its basic elements. These are then divided between the divisions related to the problem. The cards contain information like facts or improvements. With correct use, it can drill down to the root cause of the problem and the trail could be traced back to a solution which would take into account all the factors and parties affected. As a tool, it can be used iteratively, and the exercise can be repeated with different or dynamic variables.

As an information, data gathering and analysis board, CEDAC is helps to present data in a cohesive and relevant manner. This systematic method helps to integrate all the information relating to quality and productivity to come up with an analysis which is transparent and can be obvious from reading the board.

Lean manager’s techniques are not a means for the problem to be solved by a single person. Everyone can contribute to the solution. The input from the experienced personnel on the floor are more important than the input from the line managers. This empowers the shop personnel, and it also underlines the need for them to take care of their processes. A process owner may be used as a resource, however, the collective experience of the personnel on the floor can give a better view of the problem and solution.

Lean management is not just about putting a system in place, and the line personnel are expected to follow orders just because it has been written down. With more informed sources, and the stakeholders themselves giving valuable input, there is less resistance to changes in the process. In addition, any benefits from the improved methods are immediately felt by these very same persons. The people who make the system, are also the ones who run it. They know what they are doing, and how revising the processes may impact on their lives.