Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Failure to succeed at attempts

Previously I listed several broad categories for overall failure in a system. The first three are high level issues and not really under the individual person's or small group's control. They are really a failure of management and I won't bash them (for now).

Failure to succeed at problem solving attempts however is under the control of individuals. Some reasons why a particular solution fails are
  • No known solution
  • Too expensive
  • Too late
  • Solutions backfire
You could argue that if there is no known solution, it is beyond your control. However, problems demand persistence and innovation until a solution is found. The same could be said for solutions that are too expensive. That is really a sub-set of no known solution. It is incumbent on the problem solvers to find a cheaper, more feasible solution. (Perhaps failure is the solution?).

Being too late to implement a problem solution is really a lack of vision and falls under failure to anticipate. If you have a good understanding of your process or system, then you shouldn't be caught with your pants down, unable to implement a solution in time.

Perhaps the most unforgivable reason for failure is solutions that backfire. By using the appropriate problem solving tools, in the right way, you will be able to implement solutions that will succeed. At the very least, you will be able to detect non-ideal solutions and design/fix the problems that occur. That is the heart of the DMAIC philosophy and the cycle of action. You must monitor any solution to insure it is (and continues to be) successful. Just because it worked the first time doesn't mean you can check it off your action item list and move on to the next problem. If that is happening, then I would suggest you are not truly a problem solver.

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