You know what the problem is…now it’s time to find a permanent solution.

You’ve already defined and quantified the problem. You’ve performed a root cause analysis to identify its real cause and determined that further analysis will not yield any new insight. Now how do you fix the problem and stop it from coming back?

While you and your team may have come up with a few ideas for improvement while you were defining, measuring and analyzing the problem, now it’s time to put your effort into prevention. Working to eliminate the root cause of the problem at its source.

1. Have the team generate alternative solutions

Rarely is there only one single solution that will work. Think of your possible solutions as a smorgasbord, where you have multiple options to choice from. Come up with as many solutions as possible. You’re not evaluating whether they’re good or bad right now. You’re not judging or eliminating anything. You’re just thinking of any and everything that can help.

If you’re leading the session, encourage your team to challenge the rules and assumptions they have. Look at it from someone else’s perspective. Even a wild, totally out there, impossible idea can lead to a related idea that turns out to be the ideal solution.

2. Narrow down your alternatives to the most practical solutions

Instead of choosing a solution based on assumptions or a vote, utilize the company goals and objectives to establish objective criteria for evaluating your potential solutions. Other factors you may want to consider include:

  • Timeline for implementation
  • Financial cost
  • How effectively it eliminates root causes
  • Ease of implementation

The priority selection matrix is one of the tools that assists teams in evaluating alternatives. It uses criteria-based ratings to compare solutions against solutions or solutions against your objectives.

3. Implement the solution

Implementation does not occur when we send out a memo or hold a meeting. It occurs when there is a change at the level work occurs. Basic change management procedures will be extremely helpful during this process:

  • Have a plan for how you’ll communicate the new process
  • Train the leaders who will support and enforce the new process
  • Identify and train everyone who works in the area of change

As you implement your new process, you should conduct daily follow-up to observe and collect data on how the new process is working. Issues should be documented and addressed systematically. The original project team should monitor everything and be prepared to address issues as they rise almost immediately. Data should also be reviewed systematically to ensure that appropriate collection procedures are being followed.

4. Evaluate the performance of your new process

In the problem selection phase, your key metrics helped identify poor performance levels. Now that you have implemented solutions, monitor and trend those same metrics to see what improvements have occurred. This is why data collection in the implementation stage is so important. Whether you’re evaluating a pilot rollout or the real deal, you’ll be able to see the results. Pareto charts can be used to see before and after data. Control charts will show you the reduction in variation and improvements in performance.

5. Sustain your performance improvements

Now that you’ve implemented the new process and seen the performance gains, it’s time to make sure you can sustain your progress well into the future. So in this step you will need to:

  • Standardize and document the process
  • Ensure that all employees are trained and that training materials are prepared for new hires
  • Create a plan to monitor the process
  • React to any problems that may arise

And of course, you’ll want to keep everyone aware of your positive results and set up a schedule where you reevaluate the process to continually improve performance, efficiency and profitability!

The Dorsey Group works with companies of all sizes to eliminate chronic performance issues at the source and implement processes and systems that continually improve performance. Discover how we can help you take your performance to the next level and contact us today!