Floor Tape Store

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process

We are all faced with problems to solve in our workday. There are many problem-solving methods, and the six-step method is just one of them. The problem for most people is that they do not use one process to solve problems and issues or to make decisions. Another problem is that people are not consistent in how they solve problems. They do not find something that works and then do it the same way over and over to be successful.

The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process is described below:

Step 1: Identify The Problem

  • Select the problem to be analyzed
  • Clearly define the problem and establish aprecise problem statement
  • Set a measurable goal for the problem solving effort
  • Establish a process for coordinating with and gaining approval of leadership

Step 2: Analyze The Problem

  • Identify the processes that impact the problem and select one
  • List the steps in the process as it currently exists
  • Map the Process
  • Validate the map of the process
  • Identify potential cause of the problem
  • Collect and analyze data related to the problem
  • Verify or revise the original problem statement
  • Identify root causes of the problem
  • Collect additional data if needed to verify root causes

Step 3: Develop The Solutions
  • Establish criteria for selecting a solution
  • Generate potential solutions that will address the root causes of the problem
  • Select a solution
  • Gain approval and supporter the chosen solution
  • Plan the solution

Step 4: Implement A Solution
  • Implement the chosen solution on a trial or pilot basis
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used in conjunction with the Continuous Improvement Process, return to Step 6 of the Continuous Improvement Process
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used as a standalone, continue to Step 5

Step 5: Evaluate The Results
  • Gather data on the solution
  • Analyze the data on the solution
  • Achive the desired results?
    • If YES, go to Step 6. 
    • If NO, go back to Step 1.

Step 6: Standardize The Solution (and Capitalize on New Opportunities)
  • Identify systemic changes and training needs for full implementation
  • Adopt the solution
  • Plan ongoing monitoring of the solution
  • Continue to look for incremental improvements to refine the solution
  • Look for another improvement opportunity

The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process is an easy approach to dealing with issues and problems that you face. It is a systematic way to approach a problem with clearly defined steps so that an individual or team doesn’t get bogged down in, “WHAT DO WE DO NEXT?”

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare


  1. Tim,

    This is a good guideline for any practitioner to follow. I wish I had this a few weeks ago. A client liked a training deck I prepared but didn't want to confuse anyone with terms like Deming Cycle and such. The final version of PDCA was a 6 step process improvement method that's very similar to yours. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Thank you for you brief and easy to understand on each step problem solving above.

  3. Wonderful. Well Explained. Thank you for sharing

  4. I mapped this to PDCA and observed that the first 3 steps correspond to P, the next 3 to D, C and A respectively. This Show that indeed planning is the most important step in PDCA.