Mike, the hired Black Belt, was given with a big responsibility that has been a consistent issue in the organization. The project scope was to remove the autocatcher tray jams. These jams made the operators clear them manually, thus leading to production halt.
Mike studied the Triple Constraint Diagram, and decided to lay maximum emphasis on time (as he was expected to complete the project within a span of 6-9 months), and decide the scope and resources accordingly.
When analyzing the root cause of the problem, Mike realized that there was not one, but many reasons behind the jamming of the trays. He, therefore, chose the Affinity diagrams, to break down the problem into smaller components, and handle each one exclusively.
For brainstorming, Mike gathered a cross-functional team, and asked each group to explain their analysis of the root cause. The extensive session reaffirmed that there were more than one potential cause of the tray jams. Now, it was time to identify the common categories, and group the ideas together.
The Affinity diagram helped build a summarized understanding of the problem. Since the project scope was quite vast, Mike and the team decided to break it into several Green Belt projects, each with a different scope to address. He suggested the initial process improvement should be focused on decreasing the autocatcher tray jams, monitoring inspection belts and delivery.
Mike’s method of handling the issue was accepted by the seniors. Implementation of the Affinity Diagrams not only segregated the seemingly massive problem into manageable components, but also initiated scope for Green Belt projects to handle the components one at a time, to pave a clearer path to success.