Fa-la-la-la La-te Blog

The solution is the problem.

Okay – today’s blog is not only very late, but I’m going to try to explain one of the most challenging process improvement tasks in just a few simple steps.

Ruth reminded us that people always have issues, pain points, and things that drive them crazy at work. And moreover, people always seem to know-it-all and have solutions.

It’s easy as 1, 2, 3….

So Ruth taught us a few things last week: how not to include a solution in your problem statement and that a defect is any result of your process that doesn’t meet the demands of your customers (internal and external)

Now that you aren’t solution-ing. What about specifics? Where is your problem happening? How often? Which site? Which types of projects? Take out those statements, like “thisALWAYS happens” or “we NEVER get shipments on time”. Find out exactly what the problem is.

Ruth also taught us that defects always cost you money – they mean you have wasted time and effort, thrown away expensive materials, and perhaps even caused you to upset (or even lose) valuable customers. So there – DO SOME MATH.

So, in nutshell, to make a great problem statement make sure you follow 3 easy steps:
1. No solutions
2. Be specific
3. Do some math (Click to Tweet)

Here’s an example to help you understand:

(1) Tom’s customers are dissatisfied.

(2) Tom’s customers are dissatisfied with the coffee at the King and Bay location.

(3) Tom’s customers are dissatisfied with the coffee at the 24-hour King and Bay location. Customers complain their coffee is too cold and wait an extra 2 minutes to receive a second cup of hot coffee. A coffee re-do order happens over x times per hour. Each cup of coffee costs the company $x in time and resources. This is a loss of $x to the franchise every year.

Here’s a little handy dandy problem statement builder you can use to get you started:

(Insert customer type/name) are dissatisfied with (insert product/service/process) at (insert specific location) during (insert time frame). (Insert customer type/name) has to wait(insert amount of time) to (insert next task/ideal situation i.e.. send, receive, process etc). This results in (# dissatisfied customers) each (insert time frame – year, month etc.), and ($X revenue/inventory/profit) lost each (insert time frame – year, month, etc.).

How did it work for you? Did it help you to better define your problem?

Wait. Hold the Cinnamon!

Now before you start freaking out about how you have no data to put into those x’s and y’s – It’s okay if you don’t have all the information. It’s normal to not always have all the data you need.

That’s why next week Ruth is going to regale you with all the fun and excitement of a Data Collection Plan. I meant that seriously guys….

Let us know what examples you came up with. Email us at info@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging or tweet us @whiteboardcons using#BetterFasterCheaper.


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