Problem Solving For Operational Excellence

The reason the dictionary definition of problem solving as the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues is appealing to consultants and continuous improvement professionals is because it has the word process in the definition. Problem solving is just that, a process. Just like any process it is a group of logical, sequential steps that need to be followed in order to come to a conclusion.

Sounds simple enough but for some reason we get lost using this simple concept at all levels of the organization in any business and every industry. We, as teachers, consultants, managers and executives seem to always botch this elementary process. Now it is understood that problems can be simple or complex, but the approach and process are the same. The only difference is the tool being used or misused in a lot of cases. In this section, we will discuss some of the different tools and their ideal applications. We will also discuss how they can be applied appropriately and some of the mistakes that are commonly made when applying these tools.

So let’s ask ourselves first what is the right problem solving method to use when we have a problem within an organization? Well, since we are asking questions what caused the need to solve a problem? Is it a missed METRIC, crisis, accident, poor customer satisfaction, etc.? Does solving this problem have a benefit that can be realized? Can you measure this realization? Where can you collect the information from? If you can collect information is it repeatable, reproducible, reliable and relevant? If you notice I just asked quite a few questions and we haven’t even started solving a problem yet, which brings me to the very first step in solving a problem. No matter which tool you are going to use, with any method. It is your problem statement.

Idea and innovation concept