Base Your Problem Solving on Facts Not Data

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in Continuous Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, Problem Solving, Process Improvement | 1 comment

Collecting the right data is important, but being able to turn that data into useful information is paramount in determining the right countermeasure to solve a problem.  When defects are produced, and we find out only through data, we miss the chance to take appropriate corrective actions.  Thus we may not be able to discover the true cause of the defects, resulting in our inability to take effective countermeasures against recurrence.  The place where we can accurately capture the true state of the workplace is the workplace itself.  If we can catch defects on the spot, we can find the true cause and immediately take countermeasures.
To make this work for you, take the following steps:


  1. Make sure everyone understands where the problem is.  If we know where the problem is, it is relatively easy to solve.
  2. Clarify the purpose behind the task of problem solving.  If we probe into the true cause and offer a solution and  we don’t probe deeply into the true cause, we may be offering merely a temporary solution, which cannot result  in prevention of recurrence.
  3. Even if there is only one defective item, provide a corrective action.  No defect is ever just an anomaly or one time event.  It may be a rare occurrence, but it will happen again.
  4. Use the five W’s and one H.  Ask why five times before finally saying how.  In this way, you can delve into the true cause that is hidden behind the various causes.

One Response to “Base Your Problem Solving on Facts Not Data”

  1. Turning “data into useful information”, as you pointed out, needs adequate thinking exercise and a proper awareness of own decision making style. Otherwise, our perception and thinking biases could influence in a significant way the “information” we rely on in problem solving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.