3. Diagnose

It's tempting to jump straight into 'solution mode' and start coming up with answers. But this can lead to hasty decisions and false solutions. It's important to accurately diagnose and fully understand the sources of a problem. This gives you valuable insights into where, how and why a problem is arising and how you can 'design out' the problem in your new way of working.

Do you really know what the problem is?

We often come up with a solution, but are we clear what we’re trying to fix or really know what the problem is? Creative Problem Solving can be used as a way to quickly move through the issue. It brings together a set of tools to help you including the 5 Whys  and Specific Problem Statements (SMART).

What’s the cause?

There may be one cause or often there are several causes - each should be investigated as a separate cause. Fishbone is a useful tool to help you and your team identify, collate and organise the possible causes.

Another way of identifying the cause may by observation using Go See or Fresh eyes – ideally by someone outside of the process. 

Is the process broken?

If the problem is with the process then Process Mapping can be a useful way of identifying where the process is going wrong. Relationships with teams working around you can be improved by ensuring that everyone understands their part in the process and understands the impacts of their actions.

Overlaid with the 8 Wastes, process maps can provide a wealth of useful information.

What next?

Having identified the underlying or root cause of the problem, the team together should consider all the options – think outside of the box, not just the obvious options. There may be lots of options identified and so looking at the Impact and Effort of each is key to help prioritise.