Oftentimes, managers and leaders at all levels encounter various challenges and problems.
The ability to diagnose the problem and proffer a lasting solution depends on a good understanding of the problem.
I recalled a case study that we recently discussed in class. The case was about a factory that was having a lousy production day.
They noticed early in the day that the percentage of defective finished products was abnormally high.
They observed that three out of the four machines used in the four segments of the factory had this high rate of defective products.
The manager was now facing the challenge of finding a solution. Which is to reduce the abnormal percentage of defects to an acceptable level.
Unfortunately, he cannot successfully solve the problem without identifying the root cause.
According to the case, there were some underlining issues. The workers union had some pending compensation discussions with the company’s management.
Also, there was a conflict between a supervisor and one of the workers in his unit. The supervisor suspended the worker a day before due to perceived misconduct. This had caused some grumblings among the workers.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF DEFECTED PRODUCTS
- The obvious possible cause that we could easily think of was sabotage. Apparently, the workers were angry about the suspension of their colleague. So, we could conclude that the high defects were because of the workers’ deliberate actions. This was to frustrate the harsh supervisor.
2. Meanwhile, another possible cause of the defects was pointing towards the production machines. We were told that two out of the four machines in the different units were old. This might have caused the defective products.
3. Furthermore, we also read in the case about a new material they just started using that morning.
ANALYSIS OF THE THREE POSSIBLE CAUSES
- After critically thinking about the first option, we realized this could not be a case of sabotage. This is because, the issue also affected other production units.
Furthermore, the conflict between the two staff did not just start. We understood the conflict between them had been for a while. Therefore, this is not the problem, so we ruled it out.
- We further analysed possible cause number two. We noticed that one of the units did not have any defect above the normal. Also, the engineers have thoroughly checked and found no issues with the machines.
This means that, if one machine is okay, then it could not be the functionality of the machines. Again, we ruled out this possibility.
- When we carefully analysed this last option, we discovered that the new material was the cause. The only unit that did not have defective products was producing a product different from the other units.
Apparently, the new material did not favour the production process of the other product handled by three units.
Inferring from the above analysis, identifying the root cause of a problem needs critical analysis of the situation.
It would have been wrong if the problem identified was the first or the second possible cause. Whatever solution provided would not have stopped the problem as they are yet to tackle the root cause.
Therefore, the key to identifying the problem statement is to ask questions. Continue asking until there are no more reasonable questions to ask.
ASK, ASK and ASK.
Thank you for reading.