Quality concepts can be applied in nearly every facet of business and personal life.  With the pressures of corporate America, it is human nature for us to quickly draw conclusions and make decisions. In doing so, we tend to think we are saving time. 

Most of us have learned from experience that fast decisions on projects often lead to wrong decisions - which can result in more time required later - which increases pressure to make fast decisions - which leads to more time required later… and so on, ultimately leading to a “doom loop”.  My grandmother always used to say “more hurry, less speed”.  

Our industries are all about problem solving. Our clients, project teams, and vendors are faced with challenging issues every day.  It is the nature of the work we do. Integrating a problem-solving process has helped us to greatly reduce errors and enable more strategic and creative thinking; which in the end, most often leads to improved decision-making and better long-term results.  

The process has worked so well for our teams that we wanted to share. Here are the simple steps we use to arrive at a solution.
  
1. Identify the problem and stakeholders. 
We don’t shortcut this step.  In group situations, everyone often has a different understanding of the problem.  Allowing time for discussion to identify the problem helps to fully vet out the issues.

2. List possible root causes. 
Keep asking “why” and then search out the most likely root cause. Factual data, not perception, is the key in fully understanding why and what is truly the issue that is important to tackle.

3. Identify potential solutions.  
It is important to be open to all ideas and record them for the group.  The focus should be on long-term prevention.

4. Select and implement a solution. 
Taking the time for the first three steps leads to better options and choices.

5. Follow-up and evaluate the effect. 
Ask, did the solution accomplish the objectives?  If not, ask why? And make adjustments.

6. Standardize the process. 
Define how you can bake the solution into processes and procedures so it can be scaled.

In an ever-changing world, following this cycle will ultimately lead to long-lasting continual improvement and effective change, which is so critical to ensuring a successful business. 

“Don’t find fault, find remedy”
-Henry Ford

Author:
Chris Moehrl, PE, PLS, ASQ CMQ/OE
Director Quality Management