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Problem solving 101

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Paul Adams

on 10 March 2016

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Transcript of Problem solving 101

Problem solving 101
Objective: To explore the problem solving approach

Key Topics
Define and prove you have a problem
Understand the current process
Finding the root cause(s)
Generate solutions
Test and develop the solutions
Implement the solution
“A problem is a treasure,
an opportunity to improve”
Implement the solution and standardise the new way
Handover to the owner to sustain the gains
Communicate the improvement
Share findings
Look for the next opportunity
What is a problem?
The TRUE Problem (sort rate)
Problem statement: The sort rate of the Wtn Mail Centre is
‘X’ /hr that is below the target rate of ‘Y’ /hr resulting in an
additional ‘$Z’ cost to the business.
What is the TRUE problem and problem statement
Measure and communicate the size of the problem
Understand the current process
Identify and filter potential root causes
Generate potential solutions
Filter the solutions to get the best ones
Plan the pilot(s)
Formal handover to BAU
Dashboard / visual management of ongoing performance
Accountabilities and responsibilities set
Allocate accountabilities to:
problem solve smaller problems that stem from larger successes
make improvement modifications
deal to any issues
take advantage of opportunities identified within this round of problem solving
Share learning
What’s the next problem for the team to tackle?
Sustain the gains
Vote on the potential causes and display
......and measure the parts
If you can make the problem occur or stop……

....you have a root cause
Is it related to the TRUE problem?
Is it within your control to do something about?
Can the cause be addressed quickly/cheaply?
Filter the problem causes
Top tips
make sure all “why?” answers relate to the problem statement
Focus on the waste
5 Whys
Cause and effect diagram
Pareto (80/20 rule)
Relationship diagram

Pilot the best solutions, measure and evaluate the results
Is it related to the TRUE problem?
Is it within your control to implement?
Can it be implemented quickly?
Simple and effective?
Low cost, no cost?
Mind Mapping
Six Thinking
Hats Technique
Root Causes
or discoveries
during analysis from
project team
Best Practices
or benchmark ideas
Generate 2 solutions for each root cause then double it!
The Micro - Process
The Sub - Process
Understand the current process
Top down flow chart
High level flow chart
"John's annual leave is at unacceptably high levels (but everyone else is ok)"
Pick one of the following and create a TRUE problem:

There is a huge backlog of work in the 'Returned Letters Office'
Volumes are dropping!
We spent $5000 on taxis last month!

Feel free to make stuff up!
Measure to prove or disprove the problem

Solution filter
The 5 Why's
Check for ripples
Teasing out the True problem
Is this a problem?
Analyse the pilot results

Decide and prove the final solution
Plan the rollout
State the TRUE Problem
Relationship diagram
Is this a problem we should explore?
"No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form.
The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form is a very essential element in thinking".

[ J.P.Morgan ]
Study the problem to tease out root causes
Generate solutions
A classic story of the issue of problem definition is the case of a high-rise hotel where guests began to complain about the elevators being too slow.

The building manager instructed the engineers to find a way to speed up the elevators. With no luck he explored how to install additional elevators.
The problem was revisted and the countermeasure was to install mirrors to distract guests from the wait time.

The hotel received no further complaints.
Break the problem down into it's parts
The sort rate of the Wtn Mail Centre is ‘X’ /hr that is below the target rate of ‘Y’ /hr resulting in an additional ‘$Z’ cost to the business.
Sort method
BCS + manual
Product type
Fast post
Standard Post
Does it open up the possibilities to explore large contributing causes while still describing a well scoped and specific problem
Is it related to cost, productivity, safety or quality?
Will we be able to measure it?
It should not mention any solutions or assign blame?
State the problem
Communicate the problem


Cause & Effect (Fishbone) Diagram



Driving style
Poor Maintenance

Driving too fast
Wrong Gear
Underinflated Tyres

Poor Fuel

Wrong Octane Petrol

Improper Lubrication

Engine not tuned
Other categories (or bones) are: Mother Nature (environment), Measurement .... or anything else
5 Whys or another fishbone diagram
Fundamental, underlying reason for a problem
When removed the problem is fixed permanently
Causes problem to happen repeatedly
Not merely a symptom

What is a Root cause?

Root cause analysis
Car too powerful
Document the Process:
Spaghetti Diagram

8 kilometres of tray movement reduced to 3 kilometres.



Executive summary: During the service design
and development phase, the intended pilot and phased rollout of the service were removed from the project plan.
Listed as a key finding: The decisions to remove the pilot and staged rollout, due to timeline pressures, were ill-advised and counter to good practice. Both were feasible and, had they been conducted, would have exposed issues before a much larger number of schools were affected at Go Live.

(from the report of the Ministerial Inquiry)
Scoring criteria, uses a scale, commonly 1 – 5, or 1 – 10

Solution Selection Matrix

Full transcript