“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” – Abraham Maslow

Not all problems are nails. Not all solutions should be hammers. To avoid using a proverbial hammer to make changes, there is an array of options. These are some of the tools that I discuss in the Tuesday Toolkit. Most of them come from Industrial Engineering, Management, or Lean Thinking.


5s is a tool developed by Taiichi Ohno and Toyota. It has served as a central piece of the Toyota Production System for decades. The original terms have been translated to English as; Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Depending on the situation, Safety, Security, or Satisfaction may be incorporated as well.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a methodology to make sure what you’re designing, be it a logo, a process, a guest experience, etc. is designed with the customer in mind first. Empathizing with your customers will help point you in the right direction to create the best thing possible.

Human Factors

One of the most significant sources of waste is employee intellect that doesn’t get utilized. Your team is your best source of information and best source of ideas. Don’t forget to include them in decisions that impact their work. People should be at the center of all changes.


Worker safety is paramount to running a business. Your employees are the biggest asset you have. A significant amount of effort should go into keeping workers safe in daily work, as well as in transitions to new operating rules.

Value Stream Mapping

Every product or service has a value stream. A set of tasks, work, or steps taken to get a customer what they want to purchase. Mapping out the value stream sheds light on where the wasted effort is, where there is unnecessary burden, and points us in the right direction for developing a more value-adding process.

5 Whys

A tool courtesy of Taiichi Ohno, father of the Toyota Production System, is to ask why 5 times to get to the root of a problem. By finding the true cause of a problem, a real solution can be implemented. Why was a customer unhappy? The product failed. Why did the product fail? There was an issue in manufacturing. Why was there an issue in manufacturing… you get the point.

Project Management

Project Management is a whole toolkit in itself. Walking the line between art and science, project management is all about coordinating effort between disparate teams. Some tools used are scrum boards, Gantt charts, and burn down charts. All to keep everyone on track for their deliverables.

Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a leading tool for customer feedback and growth projections. By implementing a simple way of measuring customer experience on a scale from 1-10, you’ll be able to understand what your customers truly value.


The people hired, the people fired, and the way they all work together can make or break a company. Teams don’t need to be conflict free to be good teams. In fact, the best teams know how to use conflict to learn and grow. Making sure everyone is aligned on goals is a driver of progress.

queuing theory.
job arrivals at a service station.
Queuing Theory

Yes, queuing theory is a real life thing. By taking a birds eye view of how jobs are serviced, one can identify bottle necks, understand flow, and allocate resources appropriately.

Observe, Plan, Do, Check, Adjust

Observe, Plan, Do, Check, Adjust. The Deming method for implementing a change. Observe the current condition, define the problem. Plan the solution, the team, the responsibilities. Do the work. Check to make sure it all went according to plan. Adjust what needs to be adjusted.

Ishikawa Diagrams

Also known as fish bone diagrams. The purpose is to identify the source of quality defects. Similar to asking why five times, but formalized in a document.

Six Sigma

Born from the relationship between statistics and quality, six sigma is its own set of tools. By carefully defining what quality means, one can determine where defects originate and plan a path towards improvement.

man riding on yellow forklift
Lean Thinking

Built on the foundation of the Toyota Production System, Lean Thinking has saved businesses millions of dollars. By focusing on eliminating waste, we can begin to smooth out how work is getting accomplished.

Six Thinking Hats

Brainstorming as particular characters. By assuming a particular point of view (hat), a group of people can rapidly iterate through ideas by intentionally assigning different perspectives.

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