Do you spend time and money reacting to – and fixing – problems only to see them again? Maybe, like many others, you are reacting to issues (putting out fires) even though you would rather be investing in ways to prevent problems from arising in the first place. A culture that supports and values problem prevention is key to improving your department and company’s results.
We believe that there is great value in adopting a company-wide approach to problem solving that identifies the underlying causes of costly or recurring problems, and develops effective corrective actions. Doing so in the right way improves an organization’s long-term operational and financial performance.
8 Small Steps to Sustainable, Improved Results
In many organizations, problem solving is masked in forms, templates and systems that track activities related to quality problems, but don’t focus on the key objective of discovering the root cause of the problem. Without a known cause (or causes) there cannot be an effective corrective action (solution), and any contrived preventive actions are meaningless.
To make problem solving effective, a disciplined thinking process must be embedded into your company’s culture; or put more simply — the right approach needs to become a habit and a way of thinking. When this happens, corrective actions are held in place and made permanent, and actions designed to prevent the root cause are shared with similar processes and systems within your organization. That part magnifies the improvement.
Our Unique Spin on 8D
We’ve put our own spin on the traditional 8-step Problem Solving approach. First, it’s NOT followed as an obligation to your customer; it’s used because it will result in improvement to your work. Second, it’s NOT the responsibility of the “Quality” department – problem solving is about fixing work processes that have shortcomings, therefore any function can lead it. Third, each of the 8 baby steps serves a purpose… the steps are scalable, but they each have a purpose; with Step 4 as the focal point.
Step 1 – See the Problem as an Opportunity; this is a chance for improvement.
Step 2 – Describe the Problem; the more specific, the better.
Step 3 – Implement Containment; make sure the short-term plan is effective.
Step 4 – Recognize Root Causes; what’s the real driver of the symptoms?
Step 5 – Design Solution; does the plan and the team address the need?
Step 6 – Implement Corrective Actions; what resources and tools are needed?
Step 7 – Leverage Learning; how do you magnify actions into long-term improvements?
Step 8 – Recognize Effort; appreciate what team members contributed, communicated, and learned.
Developed with an understanding for why 8D is the standard problem solving approach in the Automotive industry, our method has universal applicability and can be used to improve organizations in all industries, including service, manufacturing, and product development.