The Drill Down Technique

As you already know, business can be complicated. In fact, business is complicated in most cases, as successfully positioning yourself in the market in order to make sales and turn a profit is a tremendous challenge. As the saying goes, ‘if it were easy, everyone would do it’. When running a complex and fast-moving business, problems are sure to come up along the way. With that in mind, you need to have a plan for how you are going to deal with these complicated problems in a way that allows you to get down to a suitable solution as soon as possible. One such approach to problem solving is known as the Drill Down Technique.

Drill Down Technique

You can probably guess from the name of this problem solving method roughly what it involves. The term ‘drill down’ is frequently used in business to highlight any process that narrows something down from bigger components into smaller pieces. That is exactly what is going to happen within the Drill Down Technique of problem solving. When you are facing a large and complex problem with significant potential ramifications, one of the best things you can do is break that problem down into its various components until you have it solved.

Executing this Technique

To use the drill down method successfully, you are going to need to have a plan. You can choose to work through this process either on your computer or with a pen on a piece of paper, whatever suits your personal preferences. To start, write down the problem that you are facing in big letters at the top of the page. Try to sum up the problem in just a word or a short phrase, even if it is complicated in nature. This will be your starting point, and the rest of the drill down process will take place from here.

Next, you are going to break down the problem into three to five smaller issues that make up the big problem. These points shouldn’t be all the way down to the micro level just yet, but rather they should be just one ‘step’ below the big problem itself. Once you have those points in place, work your way down another level to highlight a new list of problems that you need to address. This process will continue until you simply can’t drill down any farther. Once you have reached what you consider to be the bottom of your chart, you will be finished and you can begin to look for solutions among what you have created.

Reading Your Chart

Drilling down the big problem that you are facing into a variety of smaller pieces is likely to lead you to some surprising results. For one thing, you are going to see that there is a lot more to this problem than you initially believed.

Drill Down Can Reveal More Problems Than Expected

It is often a surprise to see how many various factors and influences can come together in just one problem, which is exactly why you needed to go through this drill down process in the first place. Taking the time to work through this chart has helped you understand the problem from top to bottom, meaning you now have a better chance of coming to the correct solution.

Some of the points that you write down on the chart you have created will be straight forward and require no further investigation. In other words, they won’t be ‘suspects’ when it comes to creating this problem that you are trying to fix. However, other points that you uncover are going to need to be looked at more closely. Those are the points that you may need to address in order to actually solve your problem. The beauty of having multiple levels of points is that you will have the chance to get down to the bottom of the matter before making changes. You don’t want to only solve the superficial problem at hand, as that problem will only come back again if you didn’t fix the underlying issues. By using the Drill Down Technique properly, you can get down the heart of the matter and make a fix that is going to last.

Works Nicely with Other Methods

The Drill Down Technique fits in nicely with other forms of problem solving that are often used in business. Specifically, the 5 Why Analysis matches up with this line of thinking in a number of ways. Both methods are focused on getting to the heart of the problem rather than just fixing the top level issue, and both methods ask you to think about the operation of your business as a whole, instead of just the factors immediately related to the problem in front of you.

Drill Down and Problem Solving

These methods don’t necessarily offer a shortcut to a solution, but it really isn’t a shortcut that you should be looking for – instead, you should be looking for a meaningful answer to a major problem that is threatening your business. Get to the heart of the problem, and you will get down to what it is that has been plaguing your company.

As is so often the case when doing business, you need to make sure that the entire company is on board and on the ‘same page’ when it comes to using the drill down technique. This method isn’t going to be very useful if only some of your team is using it properly, so take time to train people on how to drill down effectively to get to the heart of an issue. If you integrate this method of problem solving as a tool that is used regularly, you just might be able to avoid having large problems develop – and remain – in your organization. The Drill Down Technique isn’t going to solve all of the problems that your business has to fight, but it certainly can help you continue moving forward toward a successful future.

You can read more about the Drill Down Technique in our free eBook ‘Top 5 Problem Solving Tools’. Download it now for your PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, Kindle, eBook reader or Smartphone.

Key Points

  • Drill down is a simple technique for breaking complex problems down into progressively smaller parts.
  • Start by writing the problem down on the lefthand side of a large sheet of paper.
  • On the right of each point, write down the points that make up the next level of detail.
  • Repeat this process, for each new point that you identify.
  • Keep on drilling down until you have identified all of the factors contributing to the original problem.
  • This technique can be used in conjunction with the 5 Why Analysis to ensure that you investigate each aspect of the problem.

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