Eight Disciplines Problem Solving

Anytime a problem solving tool or process has been developed by one of the world’s largest companies, it is certainly worthy of a closer look. That is the case here with the Eight Disciplines Problem Solving process, which has been developed and used by Ford. As you certainly are aware, Ford is among the leading automakers in the world, and this process has played a role in the success that they have enjoyed over the years. Even if you own or manage an organization significantly smaller than Ford, you can still benefit from the proper application of this process.

Eight Disciplines Problem Solving

As the name would indicate, there are eight disciplines included in this process, each designed to help you move a step closer to a successful conclusion. If you would like to solve just about any kind of problem in your organization, you can apply the method within this process and you will likely be on the right path.

Before getting started, it is important to point out that this eight step process actually has a ninth step, which is planning. A good plan is always important in business, so this initial step should not be overlooked. The basics of the planning stage include figuring out what exactly the problem is that needs to be solved, who is going to be involved in the solution and what other information/resources are going to be required. Once that foundation is laid, you can proceed with the eight steps below.

Build the Team

Almost everything in business is better accomplished with the help of a team, and that certainly includes problem solving. Put together a team that has all of the experience and knowledge necessary to get at the heart of the problem. This just might be the most important step of all, as using a good team will make it far easier to reach a satisfactory outcome in this process. Once your team is composed, you will be ready to work your way through the rest of the steps without much trouble.

Describe the Problem

In order to successfully solve any problem, you have to have a good idea of exactly what that problem is. So, at this step in the process, you are going to take the time to carefully highlight the problem in great detail so that each team member is clear as to what needs to be solved. Of course, you are free to use any other organizational methods for identifying problems that you currently use in your business at this stage.

Implement a Temporary Fix

This is one of the most interesting points in the process. Rather than waiting until the end of the process to fix the problem, which is what would happen in most other problem solving methods, eight disciplines approach calls for a temporary fix to be applied early on.

Implementing a Temporary Fix

This is a fix that should be affordable, easy to put into action, and easy to undo once the permanent fix has been selected. By putting a temporary fix into place at this early stage, you can limit the damage that is done to the organization while waiting for the problem to be solved.

Identify and Eliminate the Root Cause

This is where the team will really ‘get down to business’ as far as finding a solution to the problem goes. Now that you have the temporary fix in place, you can take your time in determining exactly what it is that is at the heart of the problem. Why does this problem keep coming up? How many levels do you need to go down until you find the root cause? Again on this step, there are a number of other business tools that you can fold into the eight disciplines technique in order to successfully track down the root cause.

Verify the Solution

After you have successfully identified the root cause of the problem, you will need to select a solution that you are going to put in place for the long run. Once a solution has been selected by the team, it should be carefully tested before it is implemented on a permanent basis.

Verify the Solution

Find ways to test out the solution that has been reached in the short term so that you can observe any other problems that may come up as a result of these changes. Does your solution have unintended side effects, or does it seem to be working as expected? Take your time at this stage to ensure success in the end.

Implement a Permanent Solution

With testing out the way and the solution confirmed, it is time to permanently enact that solution that you have chosen. Of course, even though you have already tested the solution, you will still need to monitor its progress for a period of time before you can be confident that it is working as expected.

Prevent the Problem from Recurring

The best solutions to problems are those that keep the problem from coming back at any point in the future. After the permanent fix for the problem is in place, take a step back and think about how you can structure the organization to make sure this problem is not faced again in the future.

The 8 Disciplines Problem Solving Process

Celebrate Team Success

This last step in the process isn’t so much about solving the problem as it is about rewarding the team that has done a great job in coming to a solution. The team members should be rewarded and congratulated formally to ensure that they know how much their hard work is appreciated by the organization. The appropriate type of celebration will depend on how much work went into the process, and what problem was eventually solved.

The Eight Disciplines Problem Solving method has been good enough for Ford to put into use for many years, and it deserves consideration in your own organization as well. Once you understand how each of the steps leads into the next, you should have great success using this layout to locate solutions to even your toughest problems.

You can read more about the Eight Disciplines Problem Solving Model 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

  • Eight Disciplines Problem Solving is focused on product and process improvement, its purpose is to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems.
  • It aims to establish a permanent corrective action based on fixing the origin of the problem by determining the root cause.
  • It is a highly disciplined and effective scientific approach for resolving chronic and recurring problems.
  • Once a problem has been recognized, the 8 disciplines used to solve it are:Team Formation, Problem Description, Implementing Interim Containment Actions, Defining Problem Root Causes, Developing Permanent Corrective Actions, Implementing Permanent Corrective Actions, Preventing Reoccurrences, and Recognizing and Congratulating the Team.
  • Once the problem has been resolved, the team should publish and release a final report along with lessons learned.

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