Problem Solving Methodology

My method is a new approach in the principles of finding cause and problem solving, abandoning the traditional approach of starting with theories or possible causes! Instead, start with the facts of the symptoms and make deductions from these to find the cause. This avoids generating dozens of possibilities, which can become unmanageable. Getting to the root cause much more quickly than with old methods, which can lead to wrong conclusions as to cause and resulting in having to start all over again. This is an evidence-based approach with proven results.

The ultimate goal in resolving a problem is to implement a solution that prevents re-occurrence. Jumping to solution is a well recognised poor approach but why?

Eliminating a problem involves eliminating the cause. And it's the solution's purpose to eliminate the cause. So, simply, before applying a solution, it is necessary to know the cause. The solution first needs to know what it has to eliminate.

Traditional approach

Conventionally, cause is found by brainstorming possible causes and then testing them to establish the actual cause. Many different tools are used to do this (e.g. Fishbone/Ishikawa diagram) but they all involve generating possible causes. Often this approach generates many, many possible causes all of which have to be tested. This can massively extend time to find cause and can lead to confusion. It can also be de-motivating for the people involved.

Haas Method

The alternative is to start with detail facts about the problem and its symptoms. These can be entered row by row onto a simple excel spreadsheet. For each symptom, where or when the symptom occours is captured - the bad. Also where or when the symtom does not occur - the good. Then the investigation looks for what is different. Deductions are made about the cause. Analogously, each deduction from each detail symptom produces a piece of the jigsaw. The deductions from all the symptoms on all the rows of the spreadsheet are pieced together, like completing a jigsaw, to create a full picture of the root cause.

Root cause analysis - Haas problem solving method

Simon pioneered this alternative approach based only on experience. This alternative approach has not come from text books or abstract thinking.

There are quite a number of examples where the approach involving starting with possible causes was initially used, then abandoned due to becoming unmanageable. The alternative approach of starting with facts was then used. From this experience, it can be very conservatively estimated that the new, alternative approach takes 50% less time.

Root cause analysis - problem solved, for good

For one problem, possible causes were generated, there was some confusion because of the number of possible causes. Nonetheless, one cause was selected and a corresponding solution put in place. Only when the customer complained loudly that the solution did not work and the problem had re-occurred did the team realise that what they thought was the cause was not the actual cause. Again, a cause was selected and a solution put in place. It didn't work and again the customer complained, this time very loudly.

The alternative approach of starting with facts and deducing from each of them was then adopted. In much less than half the time already spent on the problem the cause was deduced and a solution put in place. Years later the solution has still prevented re-occurrence. So, as well as reduced time, experience of the 'starting with facts' approach has shown it to provide much greater confidence regarding what the cause is and therefore robust solutions.

Find how my services can help you and your organisation solve problems more efficeintly and with greater certainty.

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