Summary Notes


  1. First Four Steps

First Four Steps top


Methods for obtaining the information needed to define the problem will be discussed. Experienced problem solvers use the four steps shown above to attack problems:

Collect and Analyze Data top

Visualize the data

Learn as much as you can about the problem. Write down or list everything you can think of to describe the problem. Do an Internet search on all aspects of the problem. Until the problem is well defined, anything might be important. Determine which information is missing and which information is extraneous.

The information should be properly organized, analyzed, and presented so that it can serve as the basis for subsequent decision making. Make a simple sketch or drawing of the situation. Drawings, sketches, graphs of data, and other illustrations can all be excellent communication tools when used correctly.

Use Fermi Estimates

Find out who knows about the problem and interview them. Ask penetrating questions by doing the following.

Depending on the particular response you receive, additional probing with follow-up questions may prove particularly helpful.

Talk with People Who are Familiar with the Problem top

Use Socratic Questions (CTQs)

See Chapter 3 to review!

Talk to George

When equipment malfunctions, it is a must to talk to the operators because they know the "personality" of the equipment better than anyone. Most organizations have employees who have been around a long time and have a great deal of experience.

View the Problem Firsthand top

While it is important to talk to people as a way to understand the problem, you should not rely solely on their interpretations of the situation and problem. If possible, inspect the problem yourself.

Confirm Findings top

Verify the information you collected. Check and cross-reference data, facts, and figures. Search for biases or misrepresentation of facts. Confirm all important pieces of information, and spot-check others. Distinguish between fact and opinion. Challenge assumptions and assertions.