5 Step Approach

The 5 step approach is probably the simplest structured problem solving approach available. While it is similar to the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle, it doesn’t require as much effort from your team. 

Step 1

Define the Problem. For more information about problem definition, read our problem statement page. 


Step 2

Develop a Plan- devise multiple (at least 2, probably no more than 5) strategies for determining what went wrong. In other words, where and what do you need to investigate to help determine the cause. Do not focus on remedies or solutions at this point. Focus upon where your team needs to allocate its resources.

Step 3

Play “WHAT IF?”- From your list of possible strategies in step 2, determine what could happen if you proceed using the different strategies. Choose the strategy that seems the best fit for the problem.

Step 4

Work the strategy chosen in step 3 to determine if your team found the cause. If you did, then you’re nearly done. 

Step 5

Continue to measure the problem. If the data shows that your team has accomplished its goal, then you’re done! Otherwise, continue to research the problem and go back to step 2 to try other strategies.

Have an improvement project? Use the Deming Cycle or PDSA


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