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Team Management Tools

( This a part 3 of the three part series on Team Management.
Part one-Team Management in improvement Projects
Part two-Team Management Skills

Team Management Tools

Team Dynamics – Problem within teams

Most teams go through natural and expected cycles of highs and lows: excitement one moment when hard work pays off, frustration and anger the next when progress stops because of disagreements or confusion over the team’s  direction.  The first step is to recognize that some conflict and disagreement within a team is a good sign! To make good choices and decisions, a team must balance the often conflicting ideas that people bring to the table. If there is never any disagreement on a team, it probably means people are not being honest or open about what they really think. It’s not always easy to know when a problem you see on your team is natural and normal—and something that will pass—and when it’s a serious problem that needs attention.

  1. Power, Authority and Experts

    People with more power or authority than other team members can be a valuable resource. However, they can become a barrier to progress when their power or expertise stops criticism of their opinions. This can be a problem because the soundness of all ideas should be tested before they are adopted by the team. If the person with more authority wants people to challenge his or her opinions, but the team members are afraid to do so. Once a manager or expert states an opinion, everyone falls in line.  Managers or supervisors discourage discussion about their areas of expertise or authority. People comment that they don’t say what they think “with the boss around.”
    Many teams deal with complex issues in the course of their work. Having experts on the team can help by providing team members with a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of their work. In this way, experts can  contribute significantly to the team’s success. However experts sometimes  discourage discussion of their recommendations or seem to believe that their advice need not be explained.  The problem of having an expert is that Experts discourage discussion about their areas of expertise. Experts use technical jargon or refer to complex principles without explaining things in plain English. Team members follow the expert’s advice without any challenges or questions. They consider no other perspectives. If a team member questions an expert, or offers   a different opinion, other team members may brush those ideas aside and try to silence the differences of opinion. This can leave team members confused and frustrated, and may mean the team will miss important  information that would have emerged from open discussions. For team members to support the team’s work, they must have the chance to discuss all issues. A non-expert can often provide a fresh viewpoint that will give a team new insight on a problem or situation.

    Tool to deal with Power , Authority and Experts

    • Help your team avoid situations where one person’s power or authority squashes contributions from other team members
      • When setting up the team’s ground rules, suggest a ground rule that “strengths and weaknesses of all ideas will be discussed before decisions are made” or “all job titles will be parked at the door.”
      • Try to make sure this ground rule is enforced consistently for all team members, not just for the person with the power or authority.
      • Speak up when you think someone’s power or authority is hurting the team
      • Ask your team leader to talk to the person outside of a team meeting. If the problem is with your team leader, speak to him or her first or ask a manager or supervisor for help.
    • Help your team use its experts wisely
      • Do not let your team substitute “expertise” for “discussion.” The expert’s ideas should be input to the team’s thinking.
      • Ask for technical terms or concepts to be explained in simpler words.
      • Ask the expert to draw a picture.
      • Ask the expert to present the data to the team and explain what it means.
      • Ask for the expert to have a segment of the meeting time to teach the other team members key information that would help in the team’s work.
      • Ask to hear everyone’s reactions to what the expert says.
        “Could we go around the room and each say how these ideas match our own experiences?”
  2. Lack of Focus

    Teams need a sense of progress and momentum to feel successful and enthusiastic about their work. When the team fails to focus on its work, members can become frustrated, bored, or lose interest, and may even stop doing the work or coming to meetings. Part of the trouble is that it’s very easy to lose focus—there are a lot of factors that can get
    a team off track.

    1. Floundering or wandering off the path
      • No one knows what is most important to focus on.
      • Members discuss several topics at the same time.
      • People lose track of what the discussion is about.
      • People say the same things about the same topics that they’ve said in previous meetings.
      • Discussions never get completed before a new topic gets started.
    2. Too much to do
      • Too many things to work on all at once.
      • So much going on that there is little progress on anything.
    3. Too many distractions
      • People spend more time telling personal stories, joking around, taking phone calls, etc., than on the team’s task.

    Tool to deal with Lack of Focus

    1. Floundering or wandering off the path
      • There will always be many issues competing for the team’s attention. Revisit your purpose statement periodically to remind yourself about your team’s focus.
      • Make sure your team is clear about its purpose, deadlines, limits, etc.
      • Use agendas to keep track of what should and should not be covered in each meeting. Ask that the purpose statement be printed at the top of every agenda.
      • When the team has been off track for some time, suggest moving back to the task.
        “Where are we in finishing our work today?”
      • Suggest that you discuss one issue at a time rather than several simultaneously.
        “Can we finish choosing our measures before looking at data collection forms?”
      • Ask if someone can summarize the discussion up to this point.
      • Find a way to keep track of issues you want to temporarily set aside.
        – For example, put ideas not related to the topic under discussion on a separate flipchart (sometimes called a “parking lot”).
    2. Narrowing focus
      • Use data to identify the most important thing to focus on first—look for problems that occur most frequently, have the most impact, or that customers care about most.
      • When new issues or opportunities arise, check them against your team’s purpose and plans. Will working on that issue contribute to the team’s progress?
    3. Overcoming distractions
      • Ask that there be an agenda item for personal “check-ins” at the beginning of your meetings (try for no more than 5 minutes). This can help people make the transition from “other work” to “team work.”
      • If people start telling stories during the meeting, help to bring the focus back to the task at hand.
      • “I think we’re running out of time for this topic. Could someone recap where we were so we can close the loop?”
  3. Groupthink (Too much agreement)

    When team members want to get along above all else, the team can fall into “groupthink.” Everybody automatically goes along with a proposal even when they secretly disagree. This can lead to bad decisions because critical information is withheld from the team. People decide their concerns are not relevant. Ideas are accepted without careful consideration of their pros and cons. Members of highly cohesive groups may publicly agree with actual or suggested courses of action, while privately having serious doubts about them. Strong feelings of group loyalty can make it hard for members to criticize and evaluate other’s ideas and suggestions. Desiring to hold the group together and avoid disagreements may lead to poor decision-making.A variety of well-known historical blunders has been linked to groupthink, which include the lack of preparedness of the U.S. naval forces for the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bay of Pigs invasion under President Kennedy, and the many roads that led to the USA’s involvement  in Vietnam. Irving Janis describes groupthink as, “A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.” Eight symptoms of groupthink include:

    1. Illusion of invulnerability: Feeling that the group is above criticism.
    2. Belief in inherent morality of group: Feeling that the group is inherently “right” and above any reproach by outsiders.
    3. Collective rationalization: Refusing to accept contradictory data or to consider alternatives thoroughly.
    4. Out-group stereotypes: Refusing to look realistically at other groups.
    5. Self-censorship: Refusing to communicate personal concerns to the group as a whole.
    6. Illusion of unanimity: Accepting consensus prematurely, without testing its completeness.
    7. Direct pressure on dissenters: Refusing to tolerate a member who suggests the group may be wrong.
    8. Self-appointed mind guards: Protecting the group from hearing disturbing ideas or viewpoints from outsiders.

    Tool to deal with Groupthink

    • Suggest the team brainstorm a list of options before discussing any course of action in detail.
    • Speak up if you have a different point of view.
    • Remind members that all ideas should be thoroughly examined and understood by everyone.
    • Develop a list of criteria and help the group systematically apply the criteria to all the options.
    • Suggest that the team ask a “devil’s advocate” to raise objections to a solution.
    • Once an option is selected, brainstorm everything that could go wrong with that choice. Discuss ways to prevent potential problems and to avoid risks that are identified. Then decide if additional information is needed.
  4. Uneven Participation

    To be successful, teams need input from every member. When some members take up too much airtime,
    others have less opportunity to explain their points of view. People who talk too long can keep a team from building momentum and can make some team members feel excluded from the team’s work. At the opposite extreme are members who say almost nothing. They may be quiet because they have a hard time breaking into the discussion, or because they need some silence to find the words they want to say. It’s important for the team to find ways to invite their input.

    Tool to deal with  Uneven Participation

    • Establish the ground rule that it’s important to hear from everyone in the group
    • Speak up when you have something to say
    • Suggest methods for hearing from others in the group
    • Suggest going around the group in turn so everyone can get a chance to offer a viewpoint.
    • Ask quieter members for their viewpoints.
    • Ask if the team could break into subgroups to discuss some issues, then have the subgroups come back together to share their ideas.
    • Ask that everyone take a few minutes of silent thinking time so that people who find it hard to speak up can have time to organize their thoughts.
  5. Feuding and Disagreement

    Feuding is when  few members of the team fight over every topic discussed. People insult and attack each other personally rather than discuss ideas. People push each other into corners by exaggerating or using highly judgmental words. Emotions run high, making it hard for people to work together to resolve issues. Legitimate differences of opinions tend to become win-lose struggles. People are more concerned about winning the argument than finding a path forward for the team.
    Some amount of conflict shows that members are testing ideas and trying to come up with the best path forward. But in some cases, conflict reaches a critical stage, when two or more team members are feuding—disagreeing and arguing over everything just for the sake of argument and when every disagreement is taken as a sign of unhappiness with the team or an unwillingness to get along. In these cases, the team should actively work to reduce conflict so the team can make progress.

    Tool to deal with Feuding and Disagreement

    • Help your team deal with feuds that are interfering with its progress. Help your team find common ground when disagreements erupt. Be aware of your own responses to conflict and try to find ways to be less emotional when you disagree with others.
    • Listen carefully to each person’s point of view.
    • Help to clarify the core issue by separating areas of agreement from areas of disagreement.
    • Suggest discussion methods such as round robins and silent “thinking” time to prevent feuding members from dominating a meeting with their arguments.
      “Let’s all take five minutes to think silently about these issues and jot down our ideas. Then we can share them with the group.”
    • Periodically check your understanding of the disagreement.
      “As I understand it, we agree that the payroll system is the first priority, but we disagree about whether a new computer is needed. Is that right?”
    • Encourage the adversaries to discuss the issues outside of the team meetings.
    • Tell the feuders about the effect they have on the team.
      “When you two go at each other, it wastes the team’s time and makes it difficult for anyone else to participate without taking sides.”
    • Ask your team leader or manager to help members deal with their differences.
    • Recognize that the feud may have started long before the team existed and may outlast it. Don’t try to end the feud; try to find a way to let the team move forward.
    • If you find yourself constantly fighting with another team member, ask for help from your team leader, manager, or a facilitator. Do not let your feud harm the team.
    • Here is a practical way to help identify the real issues during a disagreement.
      Draw a vertical line on a large sheet of paper or chalkboard.

      • On one side, write down what people agree about. On the other, write down what they disagree about.
      • See if the differences between the sides are important for the team’s work. If yes, help develop a plan for getting information that will help resolve the issues. If no, move on.
      • Keep your comments focused on the topic, not on the person who disagrees with you. Say “Here’s why I think that approach won’t solve the problem…” instead of “Jillian, you don’t understand the issues.”
      • Avoid judgmental language. Say “Here’s what I’m concerned about…” instead of “That’s a stupid idea.”
      • Make an honest effort to understand the other person’s point of view. Ask them for more detail before giving up on their ideas. Say “I don’t think I understand how your suggestion would solve the problem,” instead of “I don’t think that’s relevant.”

    Conflict Resolution

    The following guidelines can be used by project leaders to resolve conflict:

    • Determine how important the issue is to all involved
    • Determine if the issue can be discussed by all involved
    • Select a private meeting place
    • Make sure that all parties understand their responsibilities
    • The parties must deal with both the problem and solution
    • Let all parties make opening comments
    • Let parties express their concerns, feelings, ideas, etc.
    • Guide all parties toward a clear problem definition
    •  Encourage participants to propose solutions
    • Examine the problem from a variety of perspectives
    • Discuss any and all proposed solutions
    • Evaluate the costs versus the gains for all proposed solutions
    • Choose the best solution
    • Asking participants how the process might be improved

    Conflict is the result of mutually exclusive objectives or views, manifested by emotional responses such as anger, fear, frustration, and elation. Some conflicts are inevitable in human relationships. When one’s actions may be controlled by the actions of another, there is opportunity for conflict. Common causes of conflict  are Organizational structure, Status threats, Value differences, Personality clashes, Role pressures, Differences in ideals, Perceptual differences, Changes in procedures, Divergent goals, Discrepancies in priorities.Conflicts may be categorized as to the relationship between the parties involved in the conflict. The relative power or influence between parties is a factor both in the cause and the resolution of the conflict. The results of conflicts may be positive in some instances, negative in some, and irrelevant in others. Irrelevant conflicts occur when the outcome has neither positive nor negative effects for either party.
    Negative conflicts result in Hostility, Undesirable consequences, Win – lose situations ,Isolation, Lose – lose situations, Loss of productivity.
    Positive conflicts result in:

    • A combined desire to unite and improve
    • Win – win situations
    • Creative ideas brought forth
    • Better understanding of tasks, problems
    • Better understanding of other’s views
    • Wider selection of alternatives
    • Increased employee interest and participation
    • Increased motivation and energy

    Each individual uses a number of ways to deal with conflicts depending upon the circumstances and the relationships between the people involved. Whether a conflict resolution method is appropriate or effective will also depend on the situation.

    1. Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative -the individual withdraws from the situation. (You lose, I lose).
    2. Accommodating is unassertive but cooperative – the individual yields to the wishes of others. (You win, I lose).
    3. Competing is assertive and uncooperative – the individual tries to win, even at the expense of others. (You lose, I win).
    4. Collaborating is assertive but cooperative – the individual wants things done their way, but is willing to explore solutions which satisfy the other person’s needs as well. (You win, I win).
    5. Compromising is intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness – the individual is willing to partially give in to reach a middle position, splitting the differences, and partially satisfying both parties. (Neither win or lose).

    There is no specific right or wrong method for handling conflicts. The following are general applications for the various conflict handling methods:

    • Avoiding is appropriate for less important issues or when the potential damage from conflict outweighs the benefits of the goal.
    • Accommodating is suitable when one party is wrong or the issue is more important to the others than it is to yourself.
    • Competing is applicable when quick decisions are needed and a stronger influence is held by one side.
    • Collaborating is used when both views are important and an integrated solution is desired.
    • Compromising is used when two opponents have equal power and the goals are not worth the effort or disruption of mutually exclusive solutions.

    Negotiation Techniques

    Negotiating is the act of exchanging ideas or changing relationships to meet a need. As common and as important as negotiating is in everyday life, most people learn to negotiate through trial and error. Negotiating should not be a process of using overwhelming and irresistible force on the other party. Some degree of cooperation must be employed in the negotiating process. In dealing with people in a business context, the best approach is to think win-win. The concept of win-win negotiating is for both sides to emerge with a successful deal.

Common team problem areas

Team Meeting Structure

Effective improvement teams manage their resources well. One of the most valuable of these resources ‘is time. Many of the successful time management elements are detailed or implied in the following discussions of meeting structure, operating guidelines, and sample meeting forms. Any effective team meeting needs logical structure for many reasons including time management. Listed below is an example format.

  1. Develop an agenda
    • Define goal(s)
    • Identify discussion items
    • Identify who should attend
    • Allocate time for agenda line items
    • Set time and place (semi-permanent if possible)
  2. Distribute the agenda in advance
  3. Start on time
  4. Appoint a recorder to record minutes
  5. Use visual aids liberally (flip chart, chalkboard)
  6. Reinforce:
    • Participation
    • Consensus building
    • Conflict resolution
    • Problem solving process
  7. Summarize and repeat key points throughout
  8. Put unfinished items on the next agenda or table them
  9. Review assignments and completion dates
  10. Finish on time
  11. Distribute minutes promptly
  12. Critique meeting effectiveness periodically

Team operating Guidelines

Sample meeting form

 

Team Decision-Making Tools

Often teams need to reach a decision or resolve a problem, using a variety of helpful decision-making techniques which are presented below.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is an intentionally uninhibited technique for generating creative ideas when the best solution is not obvious. The brainstorming technique is widely used to generate ideas when using the fishbone (cause-and-effect) diagram.

Generate a large number of ideas: Don’t inhibit anyone. Just let the ideas out. The important thing is quantity, but record the ideas one at a time.

Free-wheeling is encouraged: Even though an idea may be half-baked or silly, it has value. It may provoke thoughts from others.

Don’t criticize: There will be ample time after the session to sift through the ideas for the good ones. During the session, do not criticize ideas because that might inhibit others.

Encourage everyone to participate: Everyone thinks and has ideas. So allow everyone an opportunity to speak. Speaking in turn helps.

Record all the ideas: Appoint a recorder to write down everything suggested. Don’t edit the ideas, just jot them down as they are mentioned. Keep a permanent record that can be read later.

Let ideas incubate: One must free the subconscious mind to be creative. Let it do its work by giving it time. Don’t discontinue brainstorming sessions too soon. Consider adding to the list at another meeting.

Select an appropriate meeting place: A place that is comfortable, casual and the right size will greatly enhance a brainstorming session.

Group size: The ideal group size is 4-10 people.

Brainstorming, just like the cause-and-effect diagram, does not necessarily solve problems or create a corrective action plan. It can be effectively used with other techniques such as multivoting to arrive at a consensus as to an appropriate course of action. It is a participative method to help work teams achieve their goals and objectives.

Team Consensus

Unlike majority rule, there is no team vote with consensus. Consensus implies that the proposed action has general team support. The decision may not be every team member’s first choice. It is a course of action that all can live with and not die over. There is ample opportunity for team members to express opinions prior to the final decision. Note that the following multivoting and nominal group techniques (although voting is used) have elements of consensus built into them.

Nominal Group Technique

This technique brings people together to solve problems but limits initial interaction among them. The concept is to prevent social pressures from influencing the generation of ideas. The term “nominal” is used to describe the limiting of communications. To conduct a NGT problem solving meeting:

  • A facilitator or moderator leads the discussion
  • A group of five to nine individuals are assembled for idea generation
  • A problem is presented
  • Before any discussion, all members create ideas silently and individually
  • The facilitator then requests an idea from each member in sequence
  • Each idea is recorded until ideas are exhausted
  • Like brainstorming, no discussion is allowed at this point
  • The clarification and evaluation of ideas is then permitted
  •  Expanding on the ideas of others is encouraged
  • Voting for the best solution idea is then conducted (by some priority)
  •  Several rounds of voting may be needed

The facilitator should allow about 60 to 90 minutes for a problem solving session. As with brainstorming sessions, the facilitator should avoid trying to influence the problem solving process. The chief advantage of this technique is that the group meets formally, and yet encourages independent thinking.

Voting

Voting is similar to the multivoting approach except that only one vote is permitted per team member. Voting can result in majority or unanimous decisions. In some immature team environments, voting can lead to conflict. This is why consensus decisions are usually preferred.

Multivoting

Multivoting is a popular way to select the most popular or potentially most important items from a previously generated list. A list of ideas or potential causes can be generated by brainstorming. Having a list of ideas does not translate to action. Often, there are too many items for a team to work on at a single time. It may be worthwhile to narrow the field to a few items worthy of immediate attention. Multivoting is useful for this objective and consists of the following steps:

  • Generate and number a list of items
  • Combine similar items, if the group agrees
  • If necessary, renumber the list
  • Allow members to choose several items that they feel are most important
  • Members may make their initial choices silently
  • Then the votes are then tallied
  • To reduce the list, eliminate those items with the fewest votes

Members normally have a number of choices equal to one-third of the listed items. Voting can be conducted by a show of hands as each item is announced. The items receiving the largest number of votes are usually worked on or implemented first. Group size will affect the results. Items receiving 0 – 4 votes might be eliminated altogether. The original list should be saved for future reference and/or action.

Effort/Impact

One of the most viable methods of deciding on an acceptable course of action is by determining and comparing the impact of that action with the effort (or expense) to accomplish it. Usually some form of a matrix or modified Johari window is used. The only difficulty with this approach is getting the objective data to complete the matrix or getting the concerned parties to subjectively  agree on the appropriate classifications.

Effort/Impact Matrix
Effort/Impact Matrix
Force Field Analysis

Another tool often used for problem identification and resolution is force field analysis. Force field analysis may be performed as below:
1. A desire to understand the forces acting on a problem to be resolved
2. Determine the forces favoring the desired goal (driving forces)
3. Determine the opposing forces to the desired goal (restraining forces)
4. Add to the driving forces to overwhelm the restraining forces, or
5. Remove or weaken the restraining forces, or
6. Do both (strengthen driving forces and weaken restraining forces)
Consider an example of a force field analysis for buying a car.

Example of force field diagram
Example of force field diagram

Team Problem Solving Methodologies

The use of these basic approaches can resolve many problems and complete many projects. In some cases, more powerful tools are necessary. In these instances, the team would be wise to utilize the DMAIC approach because of the implied support of professionals trained in the use of statistical software programs and techniques such as ANOVA, DOE, confidence intervals, process capabilities, and hypothesis testing.

PDCA

The PDCA cycle is very popular in many problem solving situations because it is a graphical and logical representation of how most individuals already solve problems. PDCAIt is helpful to think that every activity and every job is part of a process. A flow  diagram of any process will divide the work into stages and these stages, as a whole, form the process. Work comes into any stage, changes are affected on it, and it moves on to the next stage. Each stage has a customer. The improvement cycle will send a superior product or service to the ultimate customer.

PDSA

Deming  was somewhat disappointed with the Japanese PDCA adaption.  He presented a four or five step product design cycle to the Japanese, and attributed the cycle to Shewhart. Deming proposed a Plan-Do-Study-Act continuous improvement loop (actually a spiral), which he considered principally a team oriented, problem solving technique. The objective is to improve the input and
the output of any stage. The team can be composed of people from different areas of the plant, but should ideally be composed of people from one area of the plant’s operation.

  1. Plan – What could be the most important accomplishment of this team? What changes might be desirable? What data is needed? Does a test need to be devised? Decide how to use any observations.
  2.  Do – Carry out the change or test decided upon, preferably on a small scale.
  3.  Study – Observe the effects of the change of the test.
  4.  Act – Study the results. What was learned? What can one predict from what was learned? Will the result of the change lead to either (a) improvement of any, or all stages and (b) some activity to better satisfy the internal or external customer? The results may indicate that no change at all is needed, at least for now.
  5.  Repeat step 1 with the new knowledge accumulated.
  6.  Repeat step 2 and onward.

As noted with other problem solving techniques, everyone on the team has a chance to contribute ideas, plans, observations and data which are incorporated into the consensus of the team. The team may take what they have learned from previous sessions and make a fresh start with clear ideas. This is a sign of advancement.
Both PDCA and PDSA are very helpful techniques in product and/or process improvement projects. They can be used with or without a special cause being indicated by the use of statistical tools.

DMAIC Process

Each step in the cyclical DMAIC process is required to ensure the best possible results from lean six sigma team projects. The process steps are detailed below:

  1. Define

    Define the customer, their critical to quality (CTQ) issues, and the core business process involved.

    • Define who the customers are
    • Define customer requirements and expectations
    • Define project boundaries – the stop and start of the process
    •  Define the process to be improved by mapping the process flow
  2. Measure:

    Measure the performance of the core business process involved.

    •  Develop a data collection plan for the product or process
    • Collect data from many sources to determine the current status
    •  Collect customer survey results to determine shortfalls
  3. Analyze:

    Analyze the data collected and process map to determine root causes of defects and opportunities for improvement.

    • Identify gaps between current performance and goal performance
    • Prioritize opportunities to improve
    • Identify excessive sources of variation
    • Identify objective statistical procedures and confidence limits
  4. Improve:

    Improve the target process by designing creative solutions to fix and prevent problems.

    • Create innovative solutions using technology and discipline
    •  Develop and deploy improvement implementation plans
  5. Control:

    Control the improvements to keep the process on the new course.

    • Prevent reverting back to the “old way”
    • Develop an ongoing monitoring plan
    • Institutionalize the improvements through system modifications
IDEA Process

The IDEA problem solving loop is similar in nature to the,PDCA and DMAIC process cycles. IDEA stands for Investigate, Design, Execute, and Adjust. The process consists of basic step-by-step questions to help guide the problem solving team toward new and innovative solutions. The detailed IDEA process steps are:

  1. Investigate: Provide a definition of the problem, provide some facts about the problem, and provide a root cause.
  2. Design: Envision the idealized future state and create a list of options to achieve the idealized state.
  3. Execute: Establish the specific metrics for success, test the best solution, and determine a measurable project impact.
  4. Adjust: Reflect on the outcome of the project (the Japanese word is hansei).

This is a post-action review and is also conducted for successful projects. The IDEA report is formatted so that the four steps are concisely and clearly displayed on one simple page.
IDEA

 

Classic Team Problem Solving Steps

1. Identify business or customer problems: select one to work on.

  • Brainstorming
  • Customer feedback reports
  • Check sheets
  • Pareto diagrams
  • Plan/Do/Check/Act
  • Process flow diagrams

2. Define the problem:  if it is large, break it down to smaller ones and solve these one at a time.

  • Fishbone diagrams
  • Value stream mapping
  • Process flow diagrams
  • Check sheets
  • Pareto diagrams
  • Systematic troubleshooting

3. Investigate the problem. Collect data and facts.

  • Data sheets
  • Graphs
  • Histograms
  • Control charts
  • Process capability
  • Scatter diagrams

4. Analyze the problem. Find all the possible causes; decide which are major ones.

  • Brainstorming
  • Check sheets
  • Fishbone diagrams
  • Graphs
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Systematic troubleshooting
  • Design of experiments
  • Value stream mapping

5. Solve the problem. Choose from available solutions. Select the one that has the greatest organizational benefit. Obtain management approval and support. Implement the solution.

  • Brainstorming
  • Check sheets
  • Pareto diagrams
  • Consensus
  • Management presentations
  • Work flow improvement

6. Confirm the results. Collect more data and keep records on the implemented solution. Was the problem fixed? Make sure it stays fixed.

  • Control plans
  • Control charts
  • Pareto diagrams
  • Histograms

Problem solving chart

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