When the Presenting Issue Isn’t the Problem

When the Presenting Issue Isn’t the Problem

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When the Presenting Issue Isn’t the Problem

Your organization is off-track: sales are not meeting plan, production schedules are behind, or customers aren't receiving their shipments as expected. Fortunately, you can quickly review the issues and point to exactly where the problem lies -- can't you? Generally, the answer is no.

When you begin digging into what appears to be a simple issue, you may often find
that the presenting problem is not truly the problem because there are deeper
issues that need to be addressed before you can move forward. What can be challenging is determining the exact root cause, quantifying the issue, and then deciding whether or not a solution is going to be worth the time and investment.

Defining the Issue

When you create a culture where issues are something to be celebrated instead of hidden, you're moving down a good path that will improve your overall productivity and enhance the customer experience. Companies that actively use EOS®, this is called an "Issue List", and all sorts of issues are added to this document. Not all issues are negative -- in fact, issues could be anything related to a particular process or service.

Some examples of issues include:

  • A better or cheaper way to expedite freight
  • Customer complaints
  • Broken systems
  • Obscure methods

Creating issues lists provides a corporately-acceptable solution for grumbling or presenting cost-savings ideas. This should be promoted as a safe space where people feel comfortable adding their recommendations in a way that will help the organization move forward.

Is The Issue An Issue?

Once an issue has been identified, now it's time to quantify the issue. Is it only happening to a tiny percentage of processes or customers? If so, you may determine that this particular "issue" isn't a true issue that needs to be moved to resolution at all. You may decide to monitor the situation to ensure that it doesn't progress while moving on to resolve more pressing challenges. At all times, you are looking to solve the issues that will have the most significant net positive impact on your processes and the organization.

Other times, you might determine that the issue that was reported isn't the root cause of the problem -- and this might take some digging! When the presenting issue isn’t the root problem, there may be some underlying processes rift that needs to be addressed. It's crucial that you correctly identify the issue before determining whether it needs to be solved now, in the future or should be sidelined for now. Taking the time to identify the root cause can save time, money, and frustration both for internal teams as well as for your customers.

Prevent Recurrence of the Issue

Once you've determined what the issue is and decided that it warrants resolution, now you have to figure out what it is that you can do to reduce the possibility that the issue will recur in the future. This may result in a long-term or short-term resolution that will support the goals and objectives of the organization. Preventing issues list fatigue starts with ensuring that you are following the IDS model: Identity, Discuss, and Solve for each of your pressing matters.

When you can maintain that level of consistency, your team members will gain trust in the system and proactively look for ways to identify and resolve issues.

Creating a corporate culture that reduces the reactive nature of problem-solving takes focus and effort -- and often starts from the ground up. When you are ready to learn more about this robust framework for running your business, contact the team at GCE Strategic Consulting to request an initial consultation, and start solving problems for optimal organization.  


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