Aug 20 2013

So we’ve identified a problem, how do we go about solving it? In many cases people just find a workaround, that works today, tomorrow & before you know it, it has become part of the process.

Dynamic Organisations do not find workarounds! They solve the problems, and ideally the first time it appears. This can be difficult of course, as we start out we identify so many problems. In many cases it is impractical to solve all problems at root cause as soon as they appear, at least for a while.

As we get better at drilling down to the root cause we eliminate more problems and thus the problems that arise become fewer. Couple that with our increased capability at solving them, the time to solve is reduced and we will get to the point where we can solve all problems as they arise.

How? One common technique is of course asking Why? repeatedly until we get to a cause that if eliminated, ensures the problem will not return. Other methods include the Quick/Speedy Kaizen, the 7 Basic Quality Tools (Fishbone Analysis (Ishikawa or Cause & Effect), Scatter Diagrams, Pareto Charts, Check Sheets, Control Charts, Histograms & Stratification), IS & IS NOT analysis, 5Ws & 1H.

The specific method chosen should suit the problem at hand, what is key is that we focus on solving just that problem & putting in place a solution that is effective, sustainable & wherever possible, simple & cheap! Quite often people try to over engineer solutions that take ages to implement, cost loads of money & in return ensure the problem doesn’t come back, but often causes other problems as complexity in & of itself can cause a problem.

Remember the KISS principle, when thinking about solutions, Keep It Simple Stupid! There are plenty of techniques for selecting the best solution when several seem possible. ICE (Impact, Cost & Ease) creating a simple 3 column matrix to rate each solution or Matrix analysis (rating solutions against each other within a set of criteria/desired outcomes) are 2 examples.

Whatever methods you chose for both getting to the root cause & selecting the best solution be sure to treat each process as an experiment. Follow the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle and ensure the ACT happens – if successful update (or write) the new standard, if unsuccessful, look back over your analysis to see where you went wrong.

The biggest benefit of this entire process will be the increased capability within your team for solving problems. You get better & faster at it whilst removing problems along the way. Learning & improving your thinking is as important (or more important) than improving the actual process, the more you do the former, the easier the latter will become.

photo credit: godzillante|photochopper via photopin cc

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