avoid firefighting in business and tackle root cause
When you are working in a business and come across issues, it is so much easier just to fix the issue in isolation (as it is normally quick to do) but fixing it at root cause could be more time consuming and painful. How many times do we hear people saying that process is not fit for purpose and that the same issues repeat themselves time after time?  When people fix an issue in isolation it then lets them move and they somehow feel a sign of accomplishment. There are many different tools you can use to support root cause analysis or process improvement and we have come up with a few below.

8D

If you have quite a complex problem that you are looking to fix, there is a formal process that is recognised across most industries named 8D.  In simple terms, it allows you to properly define what the problem is, do a level of containment, protect your customer, identify the root cause and put in credible corrective actions to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  Completing an 8D is not a person sitting behind a computer doing this in isolation. The only way it can be truly effective would be to involve the right level of stakeholders from different areas involved in the project and allow an open and transparent approach to this.

Value Stream Mapping

problem issue mapping solutions
If people are moaning about inefficient processes or bottlenecks, then completing a Value Stream Map (VSM) could be a way to look at the overall process from a top-level point of view and apply improvements.  A VSM is normally conducted with business leaders and people involved in the process and they would map out the full value stream from start to finish (normally on a board).  Once the process is mapped out, the potential customer demand will then be placed on this to see how smooth this would go through.  Bottlenecks can then become visible to all and robust corrective action to fix this can be agreed.  This may an increase in resource or the specific operations efficiency improvement.

DMAIC Projects

A Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control (DMAIC) project could be launched for more complex problems that maybe cannot be solved quickly.  This project would be run by someone who has the skillset in this sort of toolkit as it could involve using problem-solving tools such as 5 whys or cause and effect diagrams.

Who Can Support?

project support management 3345
If you do not have all this skillset internally within your own company to facilitate 8Ds, VSMs, or DMAIC projects, you may wish to get this from an external source.  If you look at organization design consulting solutions, you can get this sort of skillset from the professionals.  It is important that this is a consideration as if you spend the time improving the process and fixing things at root cause, it gives you less of a headache further downstream.

Make sure to tackle this issue right away using the right tools.

Photos courtesy of us.fotolia.com

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