This systemic process of problem-solving I often use to fight the desire of team and leaders to brainstorm. Brainstorming is usually carried out in a group situation, each member of the group suggesting ideas in sequence without criticism in an attempt to gather inventive ideas. Brainstorming is basically trying to create ideas or solutions by trial and error. It usually produces a lot of ideas, but many that are worthless or just poor variations of what has already been implemented or attempted.
Problem-solving is systematic; It is organized into six stages:
- Identify the problem
- Select the type of problem
- Apply the analytical tools
- Define a specific problem
- Apply solutions tools
- Compile ideas and implement solutions
Step 2: Current Situation
Here we gather the background and history of the problem including the current status of the problem. We document the results of previous work or experiments that have been done or are in progress, and what is currently planned.
2.1 Containment of the problem.
- Is there a containment plan needed (quick fix or compromise, or “band-aid”) to mitigate the problems impact? If so, develop and implement a containment plan.
2.2 Problem Background and History – Problem Background Description:
- Describe the details of the problem, how the system or process normally operates. This may require a technical content expert.
- If relevant, list the competing or similar systems or processes and describe their performance and operations, etc.
- Summarize existing data and information.
- Describe when the problem was first observed.
- Identify if the problem is intermittent or continuous, etc.
- Gather all data analysis, results of any experiments, graphs, trend charts, tests for commonalities to specific tools, resources or circumstances, etc.
- Summarize the currently planned actions, planned data analysis, planned experiments or experiments in progress and identify their purpose.
- If the root cause is unknown investigate the root cause.
2.4 Resources Needed
- Having reviewed the problem definition and background,
- List any specific resources that are estimated or may be needed to solve the problem.