Taking a systematic approach to problem-solving requires strict discipline and patience. As a leader with experience, it's important to recognize that there are no shortcuts to the problem-solving process. The most successful leaders ensure that their approach remains consistent and is understood by all employees. When an organization achieves a high level of problem-solving consistency that takes a proper approach, it creates a new 'shared language' that enables employees to collaborate more and drastically improve the process. To achieve this, the organization needs to avoid getting overwhelmed with the many problem-solving 'frameworks' and establish a simple one to start. Efficient problem identification, asking the right questions, engaging employees’ in the effort, and flexing employee's problem-solving muscles is a great place to start as the primary objective. Here at WorkClout, we've developed 5 simple steps that you can deploy using our tool as a helping guide in your process.
1. Define the problem. Give your employees an easy way to indicate that a problem exists. Also, provide them with the tools to expand even further and clarify where the problem is occurring. Defining the problem well and providing context that can be easily shared with the team enables everyone to gain insight into what the real issue is.
Using WorkClout, employees can define a problem by creating an issue in as little as two clicks. Additional context can be provided by snapping a photo or video of the issue. All relevant employees are notified about the issue and can collaborate to get a deeper understanding of issues happening in real-time.
...employees can define a problem by creating an issue in as little as two clicks.
2. Identify Root Causes. Observing the problem first hand to learn about it as much as possible is important. This step is often skipped, but it is essential to ensure that you are 1 - solving the problem correctly 2 - making sure that the problem does not come up again.
Once corrective action is tracked on WorkClout to resolve an issue, create a root-cause analysis task with a custom form to track and identify the underlying cause of the issue in the first place. Add detailed questions within the form to help guide the analysis and develop potential solutions.
Create a root-cause analysis task with a custom form to track and identify the underlying cause of the issue.
3. Develop solutions. Good solutions come from being able to separate cause and effect. Solutions that eliminate root-causes ensures that the problem does not recur. To prove that a solution is effective, removing the solution should lead to the problem recurring.
Create a project on WorkClout to track and test potential solutions to a problem. Set project goals, set target end dates, add custom KPI reports, and add tasks to compartmentalize every action needed to accomplish the project’s goal.
Create a project on WorkClout to track and test potential solutions to a problem.
4. Test and observe your solutions. Make sure that the expected impact of your solutions holds by testing them. If you find that the solution isn't effectively solving your problem then further tests and potential solutions may be needed because the expected impact is met. To validate this, you can run a final experiment and see if the problem recurs when removing the proposed solution.
You can observe the trends and impact of your solutions using reports within a project on WorkClout. Our Statistical Process Chart (SPC) will even help identify if your solutions are impacting projects positively or negatively.
...observe the trends and impact of your solutions using reports within a project
5. Adapting your solutions to new standards. Once you've confirmed that your solution is effective in solving the root-cause, the next step is to embed this within your organization's standard processes. Make adjustments to existing processes, training material, or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Doing this eliminates the possibility of the problem recurring. By implementing solutions broadly across your organization, you allow employees the opportunity to give additional insight into different scenarios.
There are several actions you can take on WorkClout to implement new standardizations; such as updating existing work instructions, creating new troubleshooting guides, creating new preventive tasks, and much more. Revisit your project periodically over time and ensure that your KPI's results remain consistent after you've taken action to standardize the solution.
One of the key components of success, when an organization adopts a problem-solving culture, is to provide teams with the right tool. It is the responsibility of the leaders to support their workforce in a way that allows them to fulfill their new responsibilities in the problem-solving process.
Adjusting to the change in role and outlook can take time for leaders that are typically accustomed to being the primary decision-maker, but learning to adapt and help employees participate to the fullest of their ability makes for a much more powerful way for employees to add value to the organization. WorkClout's mission is to help organizations adapt and embrace a problem-solving culture to the fullest of their ability.