It feels like Spring is here and the long winter seems as though it may be behind us. Time to get stuck into a productive flow. The problems of yesteryear are behind us, but are they really? We are often asked to support organisations that have been through a few attempts at instigating solutions but time and time again are seeing similar problems popping up to prevent any real change. Below are the top 5 reasons, in our experience, that your problems are recurring, do you recognise any of these scenarios?
1. Jumping to Solutions
You’ve got the solution? Fantastic, but what was the problem again? Einstein once said ‘If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solutions”. Whilst it is tempting to jump straight to a new software package, or a new time management system, is this really going to solve your problem of staff retention? No, I don’t think so. It is easy to get lost in the excitement of a brand new, all-in-one solution, they are often well branded and glossy, but if it is not the solution to your problem then you’ll soon be back to square one.
2. Band-Aid Solutions
Sometimes, even when the problems are understood and clearly defined, we see organisations wasting time implementing ineffective solutions. The most common reason for this is not understanding the root cause and therefore allowing assumptions to take precedence. This approach tends to put plasters over problems which are short-lived, rather than fixing them at the core. What is required here is a solution that aims to deal directly with both the problem and the causes, rather than a quick fix, which will undoubtedly lead you back to the same issue, time and time again.
3. The Wrong Focus
The Pareto Rule suggests that 80% of the issues in a process are caused by just 20% of the activities. We see a lot of organisations trying solutions that apply broadly to an issue, instead of taking the time to narrow in on that 20 % of issues which are giving them a headache. Without the right focus, you cannot be sure that you have tackled the key problems and therefore they will keep resurfacing. Before you start to implement a solution, ensure that you have taken the time to scope your action to make the most of solving the problem.
4. Measuring the Wrong Things
This is something we see so regularly, and something we’re passionate about. You cannot expect continued success in your business without the right measures to detect and prevent non-conformance and to capture where things are bringing the right results. Are your measurements homing in on the right thing? Remember that return on investment and market growth are reliant on your customer; it is they who defines what value and quality are. If your measures aren’t focused on your customer, problems will resurface undetected.
5. Leadership Focus
Who amongst us hasn’t seen the devastating effect on an organisation of an unengaged leadership? We’ve seen this many times and it goes without saying that leadership is crucial for any change to stick. Often, leaders will re-direct their focus to the next problem before a solution to the previous problem has been embedded. If employees cannot look to their leaders to invest in following through with a change, where can they look? It is therefore crucial that the right control mechanisms and review processes are established so that changes can be reinforced and not forgotten about.
We hope you have enjoyed this little roundup of effective problem solving principles which we have pulled out from our Lean Six Sigma toolbox. Change is hard, we get that, but by keeping your eye on the ball and ensuring that your journey starts out on the right path you can make a solution stick. If you have any questions about how CI Projects could help your organisation with problem-solving and embedding change, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-Authored by Kiran Kachela and Sarah Thomas