All too often there is an urge to rush straight to solutions when we encounter unexpected snags or roadblocks in our business functions. Afterall, if time is money, then you could argue that you can’t afford not to make a quick intuitive decision, right? But what if the problem keeps recurring despite your efforts to patch and mend the process? You might find that you have fixed the problem five or six times and at that stage you must reassess, if time is indeed money, then you’ve wasted quite a lot of it.
Enter Structured Problem Solving (SPS) which is very much exactly what it says on the tin. SPS provides tools and frameworks to better understand a problem before taking a more fact based, and data driven approach to finding solutions. A key item in any Agile toolbelt, SPS can help to reduce waste, increase productivity and address quality issues by first gaining an understanding of the root causes of the issue rather than immediately rushing to find remedies which may not have any long-lasting impact.
SPS can be used any organisation regardless of its size or product. Whether it’s a fortune 50 corporate giant or an SME with a handful of staff, SPS can be adapted to a wide range of business functions. A working understanding of the primary tools can be gained in most instances in just one day of training.
Companies have been known to use SPS as a metaphorical last throw of the dice when other approaches have failed to fully resolve their problem. However, the earlier SPS is adopted the better and thanks to its multistage framework it allows for the possibility of moving back in stages if so needed.
SPS relies on a number of set tools in its approach. The most widely known of these is the DMAIC model which is synonymous with Six-Sigma methodology. The DMAIC model is broken down into five stages: