Problem Solving Strategies

Useful, focused problem solving strategies are a vital part all solid organizations, and a must for your career success. However, many organizations are content to continue to deal with the same issues over, and over… and over. You get the picture.

puzzled person cartoon

These companies are failing where it counts the most, the bottom line!

By definition, a problem (or issue) is "a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution." In a business setting, it's a failure to meet a customer requirement or expectation. When you view your finished product (the output of the process) and it doesn't comply with your internal, customer, or regulatory requirements, your company has an issue. It's time to utilize your problem solving skills

How your organization deals with this issue determines ultimately how successful it will be. Use of the tips, methods and structure described here will assist both you and your company to greater levels of success.

The first step (after, of course, identifying that an issue exists) is to describe the effect of the concern. Detail the requirement or expectation that your company didn't meet. Once you know the size of the issue, you can now choose the appropriate methodology to make it go away. For more detail on problem statements visit our problem statement page.

Divide and Conquer

The divide and conquer method can be viewed as an adaptation of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Knowing your enemy (the issue you currently face) and yourself (the limited resources available) allows you to win several smaller battles to win the war. This approach is best used when the issue consists of many components.

5 Step Approach

If your team has determined that the issue at hand is simple and requires only a simple fix, the 5 step approach is the method for you.

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The Deming Cycle (PDSA or PDCA)

For issue resolution and continual improvement, a common method is the Deming Cycle. The Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle provides a structure that can be used for improving most processes. Read more about the Deming Cycle.

8D Problem Solving Strategy

The most widely used of structured methodology is commonly called 8D. This format was standardized by the United States Government during World War 2 (imagine that, something good from the US government!) as MS 1520 and popularized by Ford Motor Company as Global 8D.

The 8 Disciplines of Problem Solving are as follows-

  • D1: Assemble team
  • D2: Define the Problem fully
  • D3: Implement and verify Interim Containment Actions (ICAs) as needed. The Temporary Fix.
  • D4: Identify and Verify Root Cause
  • D5: Choose and verify Permanent Corrective Actions (PCAs). Preventive Actions are also chosen
  • D6: Implement and validate PCAs
  • D7: Prevent recurrence
  • D8: Recognize the Team

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Six Sigma

Currently one of the most popular process improvement methodologies is Six Sigma. Dramatic improvements have been shown using this problem solving strategy. Read all about Six Sigma by clicking on the link above.

Other helpful improvement tools are available in the Carpenter Group Store

›› Problem Solving Strategies