Sep 02 2014

Ever been somewhere & it’s missing something that you are used to? I stay in hotels a lot. This evening I wanted something sweet & asked at reception if they have a little snack bar/machine. I didn’t want to go to the restaurant. The guy at reception said “we used to have that, but we had problems with it, so we got rid of it”.

In this case it’s not a big deal, although in reality, it makes me like the hotel less, and given a choice, I may stay somewhere else. Probably not just for this, but the point is the same. Not to mention these particular snack bars can be quite lucrative for the hotels.

The point I’m trying to make though, and I see it often, is that when we try something & it doesn’t work, or we have problems with it. Is it our first response to remove it, to go back to the way things used to be? One of the difficulties with making continual improvements is that sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes it is right to go back to the way it was, although I would argue that this is the exception, not the rule. We made the change for a reason. If our solution doesn’t improve things, then maybe we got the analysis wrong, maybe the solution wasn’t just right or maybe we had the right solution but just didn’t implement it well.

Whatever the case it is all part of the problem solving process. Plan your experiment based on your analysis of the problem. Implement (Do) the solution & then confirm (Check) the results. If they are as expected, brilliant! If not, we should look back through our process & see where we got it wrong. Was our analysis faulty in some way? Did we come up with the best solution? Did we implement it properly? The PDCA cycle requires  the complete cycle to be effective. We have to analyse our results & standardise the new method, aspect of our business if it in fact made things better, if not, we should figure out why.

We want to figure out why not just to enable us to solve the problem or make things better, but also to improve our ability to solve problems. The more we do it, the better we get. Problem solving as part of the Business As Usual not only removes problems making things better, but it also improves our ability to solve problems, When the big ones come, and they will, we are practiced & ready to tackle them.

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