Most problems
can be solved
in stages

The Toyota "Five-Whys" method can help uncover the root cause

The Ishakowa "Fishbone" diagram method can help you to understand multiple causes
which can then be ranked
with a Pareto Chart

Solving Problems

Most of us take a "fuzzy" approach to problem solving. We mull it over and wait for an idea to come to us. We do this because it works most of the time. But how often have you later on said "I wish I'd thought of that idea instead!", or later had someone else suggest an idea that you would not have thought of?

We can change the way we solve important problems by applying a few simple steps.

Not every problem is difficult enough to merit a structured approach, but when you have a tough problem, it is worth trying a structured problem solving technique. Sometimes, the result can be almost magical.

There are a number of structured problem solving techniques, and there is no single one that works all the time. Most of them work because they deconvolve the problem into pieces and expose the causes. Once there is clarity about the real parts of the problem and the causes, solutions become much easier to identify.

Here is an easy, sample process:
- Name it and tell people the name (this step works like magic somehow)
- Define it
  . What is happening? (fact)
  . What should be happening? (goal)
- What it impacts (opinion)
- Who owns the problem? (accountability)

Once you have answered these basic aspects of the problem, it becomes very easy to invent and evaluate solutions. When someone suggests a solution, immediately ask how well it addresses the "What should be happening?" part of the problem.

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