Every day you face problems. Sometimes the problems are easy to solve and sometimes you face a problem that throws you a curve ball. When you face those situations, what do you do? Bring in an expert? Learn a new problem solving technique? Give up and walk away?

Problem solving methodologies define a process for solving a problem. The process may incorporate other skills necessary to problem solve effectively, such as decision making, creativity and teamwork. I’ll work on providing you a list of some of these resources in future blog articles. For now, let’s address problem solving.

The next time you get that stubborn problem, think about using one of these two problem solving processes:

  • The 8D Problem Solving Process
  • The Six Sigma DMAIC

The 8 D Problem Solving Process

The 8D Problem Solving Process uses the eight disciplines with a strong emphasis on team involvement. The 8D Problem Solving premise is that the sum of a team’s parts will produce a better outcome than each individual contribution added up separately. The eight disciplines are:

  1. Form a Team – the team should include cross-functional members. Ideally, assemble a whole brain team for better decision making.
  2. Describe the problem by getting the information directly from the source – the customer, client, supplier or employee.
  3. Containing the problem is your quick fix so to prevent the problem from spreading any further.
  4. Define and verify the root cause of your problem; this is perhaps the most difficult step. Any root cause you identify should be correctable. To find the root cause, make sure you are asking the 5 Whys.
  5. Formulate and verify corrective actions for your problem. Your corrective action plan should identify the owner of the plan, steps, completion date and reason for making the correction.
  6. Correcting the problem is where the work gets done. Confirm that the results are satisfactory.
  7. Prevent the problem from recurring again by implementing any devices, procedures or processes. This step is different from correcting the problem.
  8. Congratulate your Team! Recognition for a job well done goes a long way – consider one of these 20 Ways to Recognize your Employees.

The Six Sigma DMAIC

The Six Sigma was originally developed by Motorola in 1986 and the DMAIC provides a structured approach to understanding and addressing your identified problem. There are essentially five phases to this model:

  1. Define the problem or project goals
  2. Measure the problem through data collection
  3. Analyze the data and identify the root cause and corrective actions
  4. Improve the current situation by identifying solutions
  5. Control the situation to prevent occurrence

There are many more problem solving models used in business today, what is your favorite and why?