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The Global 8D Problem Solving Process

problem_solving_8D“If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.” – Albert Einstein

The 8D (Eight Disciplines) Problem Solving Process is a team oriented and structured problem solving methodology that is mainly used to identify, correct and eliminate recurring problems.

The 8D Problem Solving Process focuses on the origin of the problem by determining root causes and establishes corrective and preventive actions.

The U.S. government first standardized the 8D Problem Solving Process during the Second World War, referring to it as Military Standard 1520. It was later popularized by the Ford Motor Company in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Today, the 8D Problem Solving Process has become a standard in many industries as problem solving or improvement process, as internal Corrective Action Request (CAR) Process or as Supplier Corrective Action Request (SCAR) Process. The 8D Problem Solving Process can be an integral part of an Operational and Process Excellence initiative.

The benefits of a systematic Problem Solving Process are obvious.

  • Create a shared understanding about how to systematically solve problems.
  • Strengthen cross-functional teamwork, problem solving and collaboration capabilities.
  • Reduce defects, lead times and costs through effective problem solving.
  • Identify the underlying root cause(s) by applying effective problem solving tools.
  • Develop effective process controls to prevent recurrence of known problems.
  • Establish a systematic documentation of the Problem Solving Process.

The 8D Problem Solving Process follows a systematic methodology using eight step or disciplines.

D1 Establish the Team: Establish a small group of people with the process and/or product knowledge, allocated time, authority, and skills in the required technical disciplines to solve the problem and implement corrective actions.

D2 Describe the Problem: Describe the internal or external problem by identifying “what is wrong with what” and detailing the problem in quantifiable terms. Develop a clear Problem Statement and Problem Description.

D3 Develop Interim Containment Actions: Define, verify and implement Interim Containment Action to isolate the effects of the problem from any internal and/or external Customer until Permanent Corrective (Preventive) Action are implemented.

D4 Define and Verify Root Cause(s) and Escape Point(s): Isolate and verify the root cause by testing each root cause theory against the Problem Description and test data. Isolate and verify the place in the process where the effect of the root cause could have been detected and contained but was not (escape point).

D5 Choose and Verify Permanent Corrective Actions: Select the best Permanent Corrective Actions to remove the root cause and to address the escape point in the process. Verify that both decisions will be successful when implemented and not cause any undesirable effects.

D6 Implement and Validate Permanent Corrective Actions: Plan and implement selected Permanent Corrective Actions, remove the Interim Containment Action. Monitor long-term results.

D7 Prevent Recurrence: Modify the necessary systems, including policies, methods, and procedures, to prevent recurrence of the problem and similar ones.

D8 Recognize Team and Individual Contribution: Complete the team experience and sincerely recognize both team and individual contributions. Celebrate success and identify lessons learned.

You can learn more about Operational Excellence from the author’s training guides available on Flevy, including a free-of-charge presentation, An Introduction to Operational Excellence.

While some problem solving tools, such as the 5 Whys, Is – Is Not Matrix, Comparative Analysis and Root Cause Theory Testing are an integral part of the Global 8D Problem Solving Process, other tools need to be tailored to the organization’s requirements and can include Pareto Chart, Process Variables Map, Affinity Diagram, Interrelationship Diagram, Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, Histogram, Scatter Plot, Box Plot, Force Field Analysis, and Solution Selection Matrix.

Please review our presentation material Operational Excellence – 8D Problem Solving Process for more details about this very effective and efficient problem solving process.

About Frank Adler

Frank Adler co-founded Operational Excellence Consulting (OEC) in 2009 to follow his passion for Operational Excellence and to be able to work with individuals and organizations that share this passion. He has over 20 years of international executive leadership experience in General Management, multi-site Operations & Supply Chain Management, Quality & Customer Support Management, and Operational Excellence & Lean Six Sigma. View more of OEC's materials on Flevy here, including training guides and free downloads.

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  • Frank

    I hope you have a chance to look at our “The Global 8D Problem Solving Process” training module here on Flevy. It includes all the material, templates and worksheet you need to deploy the Global 8D Problem Solving Process in your organization.

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