Tag Archives: problem-solving

Cause-effect diagrams

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Here’s a new article for you:

Cause-effect diagrams are a simple and pragmatic way of doing root cause analysis. I’ve been using these diagrams for years to help organizations understand and solve all kinds of problems – technical as well as organizational.

The purpose of the article is to show you how cause-effect diagrams work, so you can put them to use in your own context.

Cause-effect diagrams


A3 Problem Solving template and example

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For those of you interested in Lean problem solving techniques, Tom Poppendieck and I have created an A3 problem solving example and template. Feel free to use as you please.

A3 problem solving

There are no hard problems

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One of the recurring themes on Jerry Weinberg’s PSL course (Problem Solving Leadership) was "There are no hard problems, just hard solutions". Often a problem seems hard only because we make it hard, by attempting a hard solution. When we instead open our minds and find the simple solution, the problem suddenly proves to be simple.

I know, it sounds vague. But we saw several examples of this during the course and, since then, I’ve started seeing more and more examples of this in real life. Complex problems that more or less melt away once you realize that it was your solution that was complicating things, not the problem itself.

Here’s a silly but concrete example :o)

A few minutes ago I was trying to teach Dave (5 years) to eat noodles with a pair of chopsticks. After struggling for a while trying to follow my example of how to hold and manuever two sticks with one hand, he lost patience with me. He dumped one stick on the floor and proceeded to gobble up the noodles in no time using just the other stick.

DUUUH! :o)

One stick

So despite our initial efforts, eating noodles with chopsticks wasn’t actually a hard problem. It was only my solution that was hard. His solution was simple – and thereby made the problem simple :o)

Sometimes kids can be the best teachers. They are blessed with Beginner’s Mind (Shoshin).