If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem, and 5 min thinking about solutions.” Albert Einstein
So many times we jump right into solving the problem before taking the time to understand. There are many different problem solving methods to choose from. Which one you choose isn’t as important as making sure you choose one – and use it.
I’m a fan of the DMAIC problem-solving method that is a roadmap that can be used for any projects or quality improvements that need to be made. The term DMAIC stands for the five main steps in the process: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.
- Define –The more specific the problem is defined the greater the chance of obtaining measurements and then successfully completing the project or solving the problem. As part of the definition stage, the scope of the project, or issue should be defined.
- Measure – How will you measure the problem? What does success look like?
- Analyze –Collect the data. Use data to have a base level to compare against measurements after the project has been completed to determine the success of the project.
- Improve – Test different solutions and see if it improves the situation. Use pilots. Get people involved. Use your change management!
- Control – Put controls in place so that measurements can be taken to confirm that the solution is still valid and to prevent it from happening again. The solution should also be well documented so we can learn from our mistakes.
And if you’re starting a new business? Problem solving will define your culture from the start. If you want people to be innovative, you especially need to be able to problems defined and resolved.