Selecting a problem solving approach is one of the most important aspects to continuously improve and create sustainable processes. Having a standard process in place helps resolve problems at a faster pace and it enables your teams to overcome any roadblocks smoothly. In this article, we will go over a few of the common approaches that can help eliminate issues and keep your organization thriving.
Define the Problem
It is essential to define a problem accurately before you enter into the problem-solving lifecycle. A problem well-defined is a problem half-solved. Your team needs to scope the problem and clearly identify the pain points as opposed to rushing to a solution. Do we have a bottleneck in our process? Is your business losing revenue due to competition in the market? Once you’ve defined the problem to be solved, ideally, you can gather some data then shift to solutioning.
Now that the problem has been defined, we must quickly gather data to provide additional context to our problem. That data can be retrieved from internal systems of record such as a human resource management system, financial tracking tool, or dashboards and other metric reporting, such as PowerBI or Tableau reports. Alternatively, you might need to conduct some time and motion studies in order to have a proper picture of the current state.
Leverage Design Thinking
Design Thinking helps you reframe the problem from the perspective of the people involved in the problem - and most importantly, using an empathetic point of view to put yourself in their shoes. It helps you challenge underlying assumptions and generate ideas with a fresh perspective. Advantages with the Design Thinking approach include creating a prototype of the solution and testing it quickly to prevent the risks involved in implementing a big change.
Monitor for Success
After you’ve defined your problem and have strong, data-driven solutions in place, make sure you are monitoring your results so you know whether you are achieving your goals. Use the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle in order to continuously improve by establishing periodic checkpoints to review your progress; this in turn avoids wastes of money and resources.
Problem-solving is an ongoing process of improvement within organizations. It requires time and training, which cannot be provided by a simple overview of problem-solving techniques. Through Adonis’ Continuous Improvement program, we can help your organization tackle its most critical challenges by assisting you to establish such robust problem-solving frameworks.
To run a business to its fullest potential, it’s important to ensure that your employees are engaged with their work and see the linkage to your company’s vision. According to a study conducted by the Workplace Research Foundation, highly engaged employees are 40% more productive. Investing just 10% into employee engagement can potentially increase profits as well. In this article, we will cover a few different ways you can engage employees.
Listen to Employee Feedback
A lot of times, employees have first-hand knowledge of the work being done and ideas on ways that work can be improved, yet their ideas about how to innovate are often left unheard. Listen to employee feedback by implementing a work-out session or Kaizen to generate new ideas and decide on solutions openly and decisively. In addition, don’t forget to close the feedback loop with employees to let them know how their input is being utilized.
Recognize Hard Work
While it’s always important to express appreciation to employees for doing their job, it’s just as important to acknowledge the work of employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Recognizing the efforts of employees can take both big and small forms, whether it be words of encouragement, a monetary bonus awarded for stellar work, or a day dedicated to employee recognition. Ultimately, recognizing an employee’s extra efforts fosters positivity and increases engagement in the workplace.
Provide Onboarding Experiences
When embarking on a new position or joining a new company, employees will often feel unsure of their tasks and the tools they need to accomplish them - yet be hesitant to share their lack of confidence. By providing onboarding experiences for employees, you’ll give them the assurance needed to complete their jobs, a network of peers to call upon, and more than likely, minimize the productivity impact due to uncertainty about the work to be done.
How We Can Help
Employee engagement is critical to generating profit and increasing productivity in the workplace. At Adonis, we provide services, including Kaizen Event Facilitation in the Lean Six Sigma toolkit as well as team-building activities using DiSC assessments, that will help engage your employees and create a safe space to thrive and execute work in the aim of achieving your company’s vision.
While leaders often do a great job focusing on the technical aspects of launching a new system or process, it can be easy to lose focus on the fact that change is taking place on an individual level. Anything that results in change in the work environment - whether it’s new software or a new way of working requires a diligent and thoughtful approach of analyzing how people will receive and respond to the change. That analysis will lead to a path of more seamless transitions whereby employees adjust to the new ways of working. In this article, we will go through some tips on how you can guide your people through any change.
Collect Input from Individuals on the Change
Feedback is an invaluable tool in determining potential challenges to implementing change. Ask employees in the organization how they feel about the change, if there are too many changes happening at once, and how the organization can support them through this change.
Understand Other Factors that Influence Response to Change
There are three factors that influence how individuals respond to change: motivation, ability, and opportunity. For example, an individual may lack motivation to learn a new software because they are already familiar with the program they work with. Understand more personal and practical factors as to why an individual may oppose a change and help resolve those underlying fears.
Have Leadership Provide Coaching
Change can be tumultuous and confusing for an employee, for instance when they are reassigned from one project role to another. As a leader, it is important to coach the individual and address their feelings and concerns through one-on-one dialogue about why the change is necessary, and what skills and responsibilities are expected of them.
Leaders build a stronger organizational foundation by supporting their employees through change. Adonis believes in the power of an effective Change Management framework and offers services to help teams navigate through uncertainty and embrace such shifts.
Tiger teams are formed by assembling cross-functional team members to solve complex issues, often in areas of IT but can be extended to almost any area of the business when there’s an urgent need to bring focus to a challenge. One of the most notable tiger teams was created during the lunar landing of Apollo 13 when a service module malfunctioned. In this article, we will go over how to create a successful tiger team and what pitfalls your business should avoid when creating one.
Identify the Right Team Members
Just as tigers are agile, tiger teams can be used to solve challenges on anything from an application not running properly to addressing an underperforming project to restoring a client’s confidence in your ability to deliver. Because of the flexibility of tiger teams, identifying the right team of experts to tackle the issue at hand is of utmost importance.
Learn from Pilots
Piloting a solution, or small tests, are an important part of helping tiger teams identify the root cause of issues. In addition, pilots can also be a great way to learn what’s working and what’s not working when launching a new product or process. Pilots also help your team avoid making too much of an investment in an unsustainable idea, so don’t be shy in using them throughout the project lifecycle.
Risk Factors and What to Avoid
One major risk factor to consider with tiger teams is scope creep. Scope creep can occur when the team begins to address ideas or issues outside of the original challenge, making the team less efficient. To avoid this, ensure the challenge has been thoroughly identified, write it down, show it to leadership and look at it continuously. Another way to keep focus is to create a dashboard showing your progress. This is an artifact that can be shared with the key leaders and team weekly to manage expectations.
Creating a tiger team can help your organization develop a specialized team of experts to tackle complicated issues with a project or fast-track the resolution to a specific challenge. Here at Adonis, we provide program and project management services that will help you deliver a project on-time, on-budget, and ensure the end result creates value.
Standardization is a process where rules are created and used to govern how people in an organization complete different tasks. In this article, we will go over different types of standardization and the benefits that simple processes have on your business.
Customer Support Standardization
Customer support is one of the most important aspects of running a business, because it provides a direct line of communication between your business and customers. Standardizing how customer service operators should respond to certain requests or issues is one way that standardization leads to higher customer satisfaction. Further, it places less stress on customer support to come up with appropriate responses for customer inquiries.
Standardizing Through Automation Technologies
Whether you are utilizing Business Intelligence (BI) or implementing robotic process automation (RPA), standardization through technology is one of the best ways to standardize work and streamline processes in your business. Automation can also free up employees so that they can focus on more knowledge-based work, creating stronger employee engagement and improving quality throughout your processes.
Advantages of Standardization
Some of the biggest advantages of standardization include producing consistent quality products, increasing productivity, and eliminating the guesswork for employees when trying to figure out how to accomplish a given task. Standardization also reduces waste and increases employee morale. However, simplifying processes can also lead to monotony and a lack of creativity and create the opposite effect, so you may want to consider how to enable “freedom within a framework” such that employees still have some agency in how they approach situations.
Standardization and streamlining processes have business-wide implications and benefits that can help take your organization to the next level and increase efficiency. Here at Adonis, we provide Continuous Improvement services that can help your organization standardize and automate processes through Lean Six Sigma project as well as tools such as RPA.
PDCA or the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a four-step model meant to be constantly repeated with the goal of continuous improvement of processes. Implementing the PDCA cycle helps teams avoid recurring mistakes and achieve better results. In this article, we want to go over the four steps of the PDCA cycle and how it can help you drive continuous improvement while increasing productivity and efficiency.
Step 1: Plan
A proper plan helps you focus on solving the problem and what information you need to address the challenge you are facing. You’ll need to be able to ask questions like what’s the background and current state of this problem, and what you want to achieve as a goal of the project. In addition, a good plan will also analyze what’s really happening, ideally with some data-driven insights.
Step 2: Do
Now that you’ve planned, it’s time to think about what you can do to address the painpoints and gaps you’ve uncovered. Many think of this section as your counter-measures - those efforts that can be taken to turn the measure around. It’s really important at this phase to make sure you connect these solutions back to what’s really causing the problem and focus on quick wins to keep up the momentum. Ensure that everyone knows their tasks and roles in completing the plan and try to apply some standardization to the process to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Step 3: Check
The check phase is where you carefully inspect your plan’s execution and determine if your initial plan actually worked. Checking also involves having your team identify other problematic aspects of the current process and eliminating the possibility of them happening in the future.
Step 4: Act
After developing, applying, and checking your plan, it’s finally time to scale up what worked or consider additional improvements. If your objectives were met with an initial pilot, then you can proceed with deploying all of your key solutions. If you really think you need additional improvements, consider those now and start another PDCA cycle.
PDCA serves as a simple but very effective tool to encourage continuous improvement and facilitate productivity and efficiency. Here at Adonis, we are committed to helping your business learn and grow by implementing PDCA and trying things with a retrospective approach to learn and pivot quickly.