If you are in business, with a focus on leadership, or if you work in such complex fields as logistics or supply chain, you have undoubtedly come across problems where you have little to no experience. But, inherently, as a leader, and especially as a planner in logistics, you have had to rely on effective problem solving steps to figure out the issue at hand and continually move forward to make your business, life, and yes, your supply chain remain efficient, despite any disruption.
In this week’s guest blog, Chuck Intrieri, talks about how to remain confident, no matter what comes your way, by instituting these effective problem solving steps.
Problem-solving is a basic coping strategy. Problem-solving is also a structured approach to addressing a problem and can lead you to the best solution to a problem. When done correctly, it can help someone experience a greater sense of control and predictability with regard to a problem. As a result, stress and anxiety may be reduced. There are six problem solving steps.
These 6 Problem solving steps are a basic coping strategy that can be very effective in managing different sources of stress or problems both in the supply chain, logistics planning, in business in general, and of course, in your life too. As with any coping strategy, it may be important to combine it with other coping strategies, such as anxiety reduction techniques or skills for setting and managing goals.
By taking the steps above, you may be able to reduce your level of stress and maximize your effort in addressing problems in your life. As with any coping strategy, it is best to practice this skill first with a very basic or non-threatening problem. This way you can get comfortable with the steps before you use them with more complex problems.
Six Sigma Quality uses DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control as their driving problem solving steps guide. First you define the problem, next you measure it, then analyze it, improve it, and the final step is to control/maintain the solution. The most important step is control. Once you find the root cause of the problem and solve it, it must be controlled so it does not occur again. In both of these methods finding the root cause of the problem and solving it is at the core of problem solving.
Getting input from others, similar to the cross-functional team example, is very important for objectivity and looking at the problem from various points of view, always being objective and looking for the right solution(s) to the problem.
Example I: Improving Inventory Records Accuracy (IRA), for instance, where the warehouse on-hand quantity differs from the ERP/computer on-hand quantity, takes looking at the root cause of the problem in the transaction detail of the Warehouse Management System (WMS). You then analyze the problem once uncovered, discuss it, and write a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to eliminate this from happening in the future.
Example number II: A bicycle fender is very difficult to put into a plastic sleeve because of the contour of the fender. Define the problem, measure exactly where the problem exists, through trial and error, try different methods of fitting the fender into the plastic bag, analyze these alternatives, and call a Supplier in to look at the problem from a specialist’s point of view. The Supplier comes up with the idea of air blowing into the plastic bag to open it up easier and the fender then slides into the plastic sleeve much easier. Problem solved. Write a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) to confirm how this issue was finally solved.
How do YOU go about solving issues in business, the supply chain, or in life? Let us know in the comments below!
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