3-6-9-? Steps to solving a problem

8Dproblemsolving

NO Problems, NO Business. Problems are an everyday part of every business and personal environment.  So, how many steps do we really need to take in order to implement optimal problem solving?

The answers range between three and many. You can opt for the extremely elaborate, though a bit overwhelming 8D process, shown in the picture above (visualized by Ravi Kiran Muddhaor you can simply immerse yourself in the problem and use your intuitive intelligence to figure out the solution.  Do not discount the importance of the latter because it works for many and the method can also successfully complement a more conscious process based implementation.

8D – which stands for eight disciplines – problem solving  follows the logic of the PDCA cycle and typically employed by quality engineers or other professionals and it was used during WWII in the military as well.

The disciplines, which are actually nine, are as follows:

D0: Plan
D1: Use a Team
D2: Define and describe the Problem
D3: Develop Interim Containment Plan
D4: Identify Root Causes and Escape Points
D5: Choose and Verify Permanent Corrections
D6: Implement and Validate Corrective Actions
D7: Take Preventive Measures
D8: Congratulate Your Team

While this method is very effective in correcting and eliminating recurring problems and has been effectively implemented at large corporations, like Ford, if you dig a bit deeper in details it might be a bit too complex for day to day operation in small businesses.

We also looked at three more common approaches which might suite your needs better in a SME environment. First you’ll find a formula from Brian Tracy, in his book “The Power of Self-Discipline”. The second set was put together by Peter Barron Stark president of Peter Barron Stark Companies, a nationally recognized management consulting firm that has surveyed and trained a quarter of a million managers and employees across a broad range of industries, for over 20 years. The third was written by Ajaero Tony Martins a serial entrepreneur and investor with several successful companies in his portfolio. He does business in one of the world’s toughest environment.

0 Acknowledge there’s a problem
1 Take the time to define the problem clearly Define the Problem Identify the cause
2 Pursue alternate paths on “facts of life” and opportunities Gather Facts, Feelings, and Opinions Believe a solution exist
3 Challenge the definition from all angles  Identify the Real Problem Throw open the problem to your team
4 Iteratively question the cause of the problem Generate Possible Solutions Think it through on your own
5 Identify multiple possible solutions Evaluate Alternatives Draw up a list of possible solutions
6 Prioritize potential solutions. Select Best Alternative Meet with your business team and brainstorm
7 Make a decision Gain Approval and Support Take note of the solution they offer
8 Assign responsibility Implement Decision Take a stand
9 Set a measure for the solution Evaluate Results Live with the consequences
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