The most frustrating part of noticing that outcomes planned are not achieved is trying to figure out where exactly things are going wrong. Sometimes it could be an object or piece of equipment that is not working well. It could also be a process that is at fault or perhaps it is human action or inaction that is causing the lack of performance. The resource I am sharing helps one to work through the known facts about the lack of performance and what is generally known about the equipment, process or activities needed to make the planned outcomes materialize in a structured manner. This offers a better chance that the root cause leading to the lack of performance can be discovered.
The Problem Solving Template is MSWord format and consists of a table. The What, Where, When and How Big aspects are covered in column one and discovering the differences between what is known and observed vs known about how things should work is covered in the rest of the columns. The last column is an opportunity to reflect on what is written in the other columns, notice the differences between what is observed and what is known about how things should work to identify possible root causes for the lack of performance.
It may seem tedious at first to complete the information indicated, but when the reasons or causes are less obvious this is a great way to summarize what you know about the situation in one place. We often know more than we realize and we simply need a way to put things together logically to spot the reasons behind a malfunctioning element in a failing piece of equipment or a process.
This tool can be used by an individual or in a group context. Sometimes it helps to have more than one person look at the same information and brainstorm through the elements shown in this template to get to the root cause(s). I also recommend that you retain a copy of this completed template to serve as a “lessons learned” to others. I believe each one of us and every company/team should continuously strive to learn to remain competitive and innovative (creative). Others may be able to solve future issues by reviewing your completed sheet for the issue you solved.