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8D for Lean Problem Solving / 8 Disciplines (+Video +MP3)

The 8D methodology is a type of problem solving that is similar to the DMAIC approach utilized by Six Sigma. Of note, 8D is a shortened form of the original name, ‘8 Disciplines’.

8D Process vs Other Problem Solving

Click the image to watch a video about problem solving methodologies.

The 8D’s are:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Use a team approach/form an 8D team
  3. Describe the problem
  4. Interim containment
  5. Define the root cause(s)
  6. Develop solution(s)
  7. Implement the solution(s)
  8. Prevent recurrence
  9. Congratulate the team

 

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This 8D definition may raise the eyebrows of those familiar with the DMAIC problem solving methodology. Many of these problem solving steps do, in fact, overlap with the DMAIC process. ‘Describe’ the problem (in 8D) aligns with ‘Define’ in the DMAIC methodology. ‘Define’ the root causes is similar to the ‘Analyze’ step, etc. Problem identification and congratulating the team in the 8D steps are not directly stated in the DMAIC methodology, but rather are implied.

The single biggest difference in the two methods seems to be the specific mention of ‘Interim Containment’ (building a temporary stopgap into the process) in the 8D methodology. While it is likely done in conjunction with other problem solving methods, formally mentioning it helps prevent skipping the step.

So, which is better (DMAIC vs. 8D system)? Both are strong methods for solving continuous improvement problems. Both provide a consistent, structured approach, and both provide a common language so project status can be easily communicated throughout an organization.

My recommendation is to…

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  • No matter how good a problem-solving methodology is, it will only work if it is used.
  • Teams will not get good at problem-solving unless they are allowed to actually do it. During the learning process they will make mistakes. Managers need to be ready for this and use the errors as teaching points.
  • The 8D process is one of many problem-solving methodologies. Your company will work most effectively if you pick one and stick with it. It can be confusing to have different factions using different tools. 

One of the most valuable skills you can develop is the ability to effectively solve problems. Because most people take a haphazard approach to coming up with solution, the simple fact that you know about a step-by-step problem-solving methodology such as the eight disciplines gives you a significant boost in the eyes of your leadership team.

The challenge most people have, though, with developing the skill is that it is paved with mistakes. You don’t get good at solving problems without practice. And when you first start practicing, there will be a learning curve. A good way to mitigate this is to find a mentor. They can help you avoid critical mistakes. A strong mentor won’t insulate you from obstacles. Part of the learning process is…

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One of the best investments a leader can make in his or her team is developing problem-solving skills. Simply teaching the eight disciplines will make a marked improvement in your team’s ability to deal with issues quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

Bear in mind that there will be bumps along the way. Your team will make mistakes, and how you deal with them will go a long way towards determining how committed they will be to taking on the challenge of learning to be effective problem solvers. If they feel like they will be at risk when they take a chance, they will be tentative and reluctant to try. On the other hand, if they see that you will be reasonable and forgiving if they went through the problem-solving process, they will be more likely to internalize the methods.

The key is communication. You have to stay in touch with your subordinates who are working outside of their comfort zone. Asking a lot of questions, and pay attention when…

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