Opportunity Assessment And Planning Process Works For EG&G's Group Problem Solving
Problem-solving groups allow the industrial engineer to bring together diverse knowledge and encourage cooperation between different departments of an organization. However, if groups are not carefully designed, they can be a waste of time and money: there may be too many goals, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of leadership and accountability.
EG&G Idaho industrial engineers working together on problem-solving groups at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory have been successful in areas including transportation, administration, labor relations, engineering, and the Quality and Productivity Improvement Program. One EG&G Idaho group problem-solving methodology, coined Opportunity Assessment and Planning (OAP), relies on a four-to-eight-person group that often includes immediate managers. The IE serves as facilitator of the process, using Industrial Engineering skills and facilitation techniques.
Opportunity Assessment and Planning is appropriate for problem solving at any organizational level, including upper management. Within a two-to six-hour period, a group can identify improvement opportunities and develop tentative action plans to pursue those possibilities.
The OAP approach follows three phases. Phase I focuses on planning: Phase II with selecting a function, breaking the function into activities, and identifying as many improvement opportunities as possible; and Phase III is concerned with implementation and follow-up of improvements. The role of the IE is to advise, stimulate, challenge, encourage to action, and follow up on action items.
Phase I -- Planning
The success of OAP centers on defining management and/or group goals. For example, objectives may be to improve quality and productivity better utilize resources, reduce frustration, improve …