No matter what you do in business, you’re going to face problems at some point and the answers to those problems aren’t going to be obvious. When coming up with answers to problems, it’s important that you approach things in an organized, logical way and work through the issues clearly.
A good way to do this is to follow the DMAIC framework, which helps identify problems and take steps to fix them.
One of the most important steps in solving a problem is actually identifying and defining the problem in the first place. It’s easy to see a problem and attempt to fix it without fully investigating why the problem is there, but if you do this, you miss an important step.
Creating a problem statement that defines what the problem is and its severity is a great way to start your problem-solving. After you’ve created a problem statement, you can then create a goal statement that sets out what you want to achieve in fixing the problem.
When you clearly map out the problem for everyone to see, you have a better chance of fixing its causes.
Once you’ve clearly defined the problem, it’s time to dig into the deeper numbers. Your problem might be that your product gets too many returns, so look at all the numbers. Are your returns because of poor instructions, poor design, missing parts, and how many times does each instance occur?
If you collect accurate data, then you know exactly where your starting point is and can measure your improvement as you move forward.
We now know what our problem is, and we have good data to work with, so it can be tempting to jump into coming up with solutions. However, it’s important that you continue to consider the root causes of the problem before you come up with a solution.
There are lots of different root causes that could be causing the problem you have, and you need to eliminate these root causes until you find the one that is actually causing your problem before you can implement a solution.
When you’ve discovered what the root cause of your problem is then you can begin to make improvements by implementing solutions. Just as you brainstormed and eliminated root causes until you found the right one, the same process is needed for solutions.
It’s tempting to jump ahead to this stage, but if you skip the other steps then you can find your solutions do more harm than good.
When you start to see improvements, you want to be able to control those improvements. It’s no use getting rid of the problem if it returns in a few months’ time, so you need to have a plan to continue to measure your success and a response plan if your solutions stop working.
If you keep on fixing the small problems you have throughout your business, you will find that each small gain combines to turn into one big gain.