What is Problem Solving?
- Is a technique to identify root causes of problems.
- Is strictly fact based.
- Problem Solving techniques are used in:
- QS-9000 TE Supplement
- QS-9000 Semiconductor Supplement
- Quality Operating System (QOS)
- Total Quality Management (TQM)
- ISO 14001:2004 Environment Management System
- ISO/IEC 17025:2005 Laboratory Quality System
- Uses various problem solving tools:
- Creative thinking
- Rational thinking
- Decision thinking
- Risk analysis
- Check-sheets and Work Instructions
- Pareto Diagrams and Trend Charts
- Process Flow Diagrams, FMEA, and Control Plans
- Cause and Effect Diagrams
- Dot Plots and Histograms
- Scatter Plots and Analysis of Variation
- Control Charts
- Advanced Statistical and Data Analysis Tools
- Regression Analysis
- Designed Experiments
- A standardized problem solving methodology for the company.
- The importance of process improvement in organizational progress.
- Making problem solving and process improvement a part of the work schedule.
- Realizing that problem solving is a key to customer satisfaction.
- Understanding the quality concepts put forth by Dr. Deming.
- Prioritizing problems using fault analysis.
The Problem Solving Procedure
- Fault selection and problem statement
- Operational definition
- Data collection and analysis
- Root cause analysis
- Formulation of action plan and its implementation
- Efficacy analysis
- Standardization of the process
- Continuous process improvement
Team Based Problem Solving
- Addresses Complicated Problems
The team approach works best when the problem as well as its associated information,
is complicated and beyond what one member is reasonably capable of knowing.
- Addresses Special Cause and Common Cause Problems
The 8-D process was designed to work best with special cause problems. However it
can also be associated with common cause problems and improvement actions like those
associated with a QOS.
- Uses Cross-functional Inputs
Working in a cross-functional team means that each problem solver no longer needs
to know all the technical details about how things work. Necessary information is
available from a variety of team members.
- Promotes Standardization
A team approach to problem solving leads to a common language. This promotes effectiveness,
consistency, time savings, and change control.
- Designed for Problems with Unknown Root Causes
The problem solving process is used to identify root causes of problems and provide
The 8-D Problem Solving Process
The Eight Disciplines (8-D) comprise a method of resolving a problem when the cause
of the problem is unknown.
- Encompasses the Entire Process
As a Problem Solving Process, it is a sequence of events which should be followed
from the moment a problem or improvement opportunity is evident.
- Facilitates Timely Solutions
When correctly followed, it helps to facilitate a timely resolution to the Problem.
- Provides a Reporting Format
- The 8-D Report is a living document
- Progress to date.
- An action plan for completion.
- The 8-D Report is used to communicate progress on resolving a problem. It may serve
as a reference for future efforts.
- Establishes a Standard Practice
- An emphasis on facts, where problem solving, decision making, planning are driven
and monitored by hard factual data.
- A commitment to solving the origin of the problem, not just masking the effects
of the problem.
- An enforced discipline.
Team Problem Solving Objectives
- Form Team
Establish a small group of people with the process/product knowledge, allocated
time, authority, and skill in the required technical disciplines to solve the problem
and implement corrective actions. The group must have a designated champion.
- Describe the Problem
Specify the internal/external customer problem by identifying in quantifiable terms
the who, what, when, where, why, how, how many(5W2H) for the problem.
- Implement and Verify Interim (Containment) Actions
Define and implement containment actions to isolate the effect of a problem from
any internal/external customer until corrective action is implemented. Verify the
effectiveness of the containment action.
- Find and Verify Root Causes
Identify all potential causes which would explain why the problem occurred. Isolate
and verify the root cause by testing each potential cause against the problem description
and test data. Identify alternative corrective actions to eliminate root cause.
- Select Permanent Corrective Actions
Though test programs quantitatively confirm that the selected corrective actions
will resolve the problem for the customer, and will not cause undesirable side effects.
Define contingency actions, if necessary, based on risk assessment.
- Implement Permanent Corrective Actions
Define and implement the best permanent corrective actions. Choose on-going controls
to ensure that the root cause is eliminated. Once in effect, monitor the long term
impact and implement contingency actions, if necessary.
- Prevent System Problems
Modify the management systems, operating systems, practices, and procedures to prevent
recurrence of these and any other similar problems.
- Congratulate the Team
Recognize the collective efforts of the team and learn from what they did.
Inhibitors to Effective Problem Solving
- Problem Described Incorrectly
A clear, thorough description of the problem is necessary. A problem must be adequately
described and the definition must be narrow enough in scope for the team to solve
the problem effectively.
- Problem Solving Effort Expedited
Problem solving steps are skipped in order to obtain a quick solution. Conventional
wisdom often drives this.
- Poor Team Participation
Not all team members participate effectively, so the team fails to consider all
possible causes of the problem.
- No Logical Thought Process
The team lacks a disciplined system for analyzing problems
- Lack of Technical Skills
Team members are not adequately trained.
- Management Impatience
The management's lack of understanding of the problem solving process makes all
levels of management demand to know exactly when a problem will be solved. This
pressure often ensues in inadequate analysis.
- Potential Cause Misidentified as a Root Cause
Sometimes a potential cause is quickly identified as a root cause, and the problem
investigation is concluded. However, the problem recurs because the root cause was
- Permanent Corrective Actions not Implemented
A root cause may be identified, but no action is taken to implement a permanent
corrective action. Permanent actions often require management to approve the costs
and implement the actions.
Tools for Identifying and Understanding the Problem
Help gather information
- Pareto Diagram
Help identify the 'vital few' problems from the 'trivial many' problems
- The Process Flow
Helps one to identify the process to see the interaction between operations.
- The Five Whys'
They transfer the problem definition to the operational definition.
- Is/Is Not Analysis (Problem Solving Worksheet)
Helps to document the problem into what, when, where , how big.
Tools for Analyzing the Problem
- Cause and Effect Diagrams
Helps brainstorm the causes of the problems.
- Is/Is Not Analysis
Aids to identify the potential causes.
- Scatter Diagrams and Histograms
Help to verify the root cause.
Tools for Implementing and Maintaining Improvements
- Action Plans
Action Plans are used to track all actions that need to be followed and implemented.
- Trend Charts<
Trend Charts are used to make management presentations and track overall improvements.
- 8-D Summaries and Paynter Charts
8-D Summaries and Paynter Charts are used in management review meetings to track
- FMEA and Control Plans
- Control Charts
Control charts are used to monitor processes for the occurrence of special cause
variation, and to measure common cause variation.
- Forward Looking
Creativity is the tool that transforms companies from the 'here & now' to the 'future'.
- Under Used
Hindrances to creative thinking are often ingrained in organizational cultures.
- Break Paradigms
Creativity helps break paradigms, taking us from 'what we know' to 'what might be
possible'. When we pursue creativity undeterred, we allow ourselves the option of
considering all the possibilities.
- Important in Problem Solving
Creativity is used in steps D4 and D5 of the problem solving process.
Managing the Company wide Problem Solving Process
QOS and Problem Solving for Continuous Improvement
- Identify Customer Expectations and Competitive Bench Marks
- Establish Strategic Imperatives
- Identify Processes and Measurables
- Disaggregate Data using Pareto Diagrams
- Identify Improvement Projects
- Conduct Problem Solving with Cross-Functional Teams
- Review Progress on a Regular Basis
- Trend Charts
- 8-D Summary
- Paynter Chart
Product & Process Validation
- Production trial run
- Measurement systems evaluation
- Preliminary process capability study
- Production Part Approval (PPAP)
- Production validation testing
- Packaging evaluation
- Production control plan
- Quality planning sign-off & management support
Feedback, Assessment & Corrective Action
- Reduced variation
- Customer satisfaction
- Documentation & service