Jasmeet Kohli

Friday 3 August 2018

Commonalities in Problem Solving Approach

There are many methods of problem solving like the 8D, 5 Why, Root Cause Analysis, Six Sigma approach and others, but the skeleton of problem solving basically remains the same, barring some minor differences. The steps in Problem Solving are:
  1. Team Formation: First of all, a cross-functional team of all departments or job functions has to be formed to look into the various problems being faced. Having a cross-function team minimizes the risk of any aspect of the problem or any adverse impact of potential solutions is ignored.
  2. Identify & Define the problem: Albert Einstein said, "A problem well defined is a problem half solved". The problem to be tackled, is clearly explained with its impact well articulated on the organization & business processes. The 5W1H method can be of great help in this regard.
  3. Gather data or facts: Data and facts about the problem are collected and discussed within the team to know the impact of the problem and the root causes behind it. The 5 Why technique is one of the most common methods used for this purpose.
  4. Generate Options: Possible solutions to fix the root cause(s) behind the problem are discussed. People outside the team are also invited to discuss the solutions, if required. For example, people from Procurement are invited if there is any need of procuring some equipment from market or supplier, HR is invited if any additional person with some specific expertise is required to be hired, or people from Finance are invited to evaluate cost of implementation.
  5. Evaluate & Implement Solutions: All the possible solutions are discussed in detail and selected based on specific criteria like cost, ease of implementation, monitoring, scalability, etc. The selected solutions are then implemented in a specific part of work area under a pilot project to know the impact or implemented fully if the impact is fully known.
  6. Monitor Results: After a pre-decided waiting period, the impact of the implemented solutions is monitored and recorded. All the supporting documents like process flows, best practices, checklists, SOPs, etc. are updated with the new solutions, with required training of personnel. Also, other processes or work areas where the new solution can be implemented are identified & solution is implemented there also.

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