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Problem solving strategies are common place in business and it is essential that the right tool is used for the specific problem in hand. The difference between the outstanding, world class performers and the average companies is how well they react to issues when they arise.
Simply put, one must find the biggest impact, either by number of times the issue arises or the financial impact it has on the business, or any other scoring method.
Then it is a case of focusing the problem solving effort on this issue until it is resolved.
There are a couple of well-known continuous improvement road maps that should be used, like PDCA or DMAIC, but in essence, problem solving is all about the following:1. Simply put, if you have a problem somewhere and it is causing a big impact, measure it!
Understand the process: What is the actual problem?
After this, the next thing to do is to understand the problem further and drill down to the root causes…..
Analysis tools like the Process flow chart, Scatter diagrams, histograms and others can help pin point at what point in the process issues arise, but a simple tool to help kick-start the root cause analysis is the Fishbone diagram.At this point, a simple exercise would be to discuss the problem and in turn, get each individual within the team to identify possible causes.No idea is a bad idea, and the remit is to get as many ideas as possible.Not using effective problem solving strategies to identify, contain and eliminate the root causes has a massive and detrimental impact on business performance and stability, and ultimately seriously jeopardises the business’ competitiveness and existence.In business, errors are made; issues arise, so how do you know what problem to deal with amongst the mountain of problems that may exist. What problem strategies are there to help diagnose and eliminate the causes amongst the myriad of issues?How many times does it happen and what generic factors are causing this?Simple Visual tools to firstly expose the problem are QCPC charts, and Pareto Diagrams to display quick, simple and visual understanding of the problem, its occurrence and the generic reasons why can be captured.The Pareto chart is an effective tool for just this.It enables the organisation to visually identify the biggest issue and then allows the team to focus on rectifying it.Plain and simply; it is the method of spotting problems as they arise in the work place, stopping, analysing and spending time to resolve that issue so it doesn’t happen again.This involves a continuous improvement culture, which takes time and great leadership.