Any Formal Problem Solving is a Waste !

That is unless you start with having a very strong Problem Statement. If you do not not it really does not matter what method you use to solve the problem it will likely take you down the wrong rabbit hole.


A mentor many years ago advised me that a strong Problem Statement should contain just one (1) deviation and only one (1) object. Plus the Problem Statement should be focused close or surrounding the potential root from where the problem is observed.


A Problem Statement example,

  • The Bread is Stale

Is effective since the "Bread" is the object and "Stale" is the deviation.

Instead of ..

  • The Bread is Stale and Moldy

Here we have one (1) object being the Bread but two (2) Deviations being stale and moldy ... so you will get quickly confused about which deviation to resolve.


There is more to Formal Problem Solving ... there are many accepted methodologies to embrace but which one works best?


6-Sigma is super popular and something everyone likes to impress others that they understand and are accredited to use. But like ISO Registration unfortunately 6-Sigma is not 6-Sigma is not 6-Sigma. If you look at the chart below it will show you how long it takes to train a critical mass within your organization, then the time to apply and ultimately before you will begin to see results ... which based on our research can take 5-6 years after making the commitment to 6-Sigma. Truly a long-term investment. And, like ISO registration if you make concrete parachutes you can become ISO Registered but i sure would not use one ... so similar with 6-Sigma you really need to research who is providing the training and how effective will that training make you.



Formal Problem solving does need a critical mass within your organization to make it work and be effective so the chart does help you budget your time investment before you will see benefit ... all of it takes investment.


All of the methodologies rely on data collection but then many veer into some sort of data analysis. Here is where 6-Sigma shines since the statistical data modelling will allow you to cover most of your business attributes the best ... but can you wait that long? Perhaps using some non-statistical methods like 5-Why or Kepner-Tregoe will get you most of the way there and then perhaps recruit a hired gun 6-Sigma pro to take it the final mile.




As the chart shows problems can emulate from many different factions within our organization. Do all of them require some sort of Formal Problem Solving? Definitely not !! Sometimes it is a just a simple ... 'Go Do"


This why i really like the concept of Morning Market (contact us to learn more) where in triage mode you categorize your problems before jumping into a formal Problem Solving ritual ... the categories are loosely defined as follows;


  • I know what the problem is? just need to verify and apply a fix.

  • I think i know what the problem is? ... Investigate, verify and apply the fix.

  • I have no clue how this problem occurred? ... deep dive investigation most likely requiring data collection before verification and potentially multiple potential root causes.


But !!! Before you start on any Problem Solving journey focus on your Problem Statement with only one (1) Object and one (1) Deviation or you are just wasting your and your organization's time and money.

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