Breaking things into smaller parts facilitates change, learning, and yes, problem solving. Even if this technique doesn’t initially meet your expectations, it serves as a practice tool to train our minds to look at problems with a finer resolution. It’s effective because most problems are the result of many little things rather than one big thing. Even a simple broken machine could be an integrated set of maintenance, training, quality and overuse problems.
So, here are five introductory steps to this technique:
- Write down the problem.
- Define every major word in your problem especially those particular to your industry or company, then do the same with the major words in these definitions.
- Identify all factors, actual and potential, that impact the problem or impact the conditions, schedules, resources and people connected to it regardless of whether they are problems.
- Identify any processes associated with the problem or with the factors in #3 including communication processes, then detail so you can associate any labor, technology, equipment or supplies to its appropriate expense category.
- With the information from Steps #1-#4, rewrite the problem as needed and repeat steps #2-#4.
Initially, the detailing might seem daunting, but the process of uncovering each detail can present a solution, an aspect of the solution or other questions leading to solutions. It’s similar to planning: the process of encouraging thought is more important than the outcome. Additionally, as with planning, the complexity, urgency and importance of the problem will drive how comprehensively we will employ this technique.
In this post’s sequel, we’ll review a set of questions allowing us to explore these details even further. It’s akin to zooming in on a picture, clarifying existing items and revealing new ones with both potentially answering questions to our problem or providing solutions.