What is 8D Problem Solving

Guide: 8D Problem Solving

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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

8D Problem Solving is a systematic and structured approach used to solve business related problems. It names has been given by the fact there are 8 steps or 8 disciplines that are followed to identify, correct and eliminate recurring problems.

 

8D Problem Solving is regarded as robust methodology that has proven its worth across multiple industries and manufacturing in particular. The methodology was Initially developed within the automotive industry, it has since been widely adopted in manufacturing, logistics and health care to name a few. The 8D approach goes beyond helping team just identify the root cause of problem but also provides a structured approach for implementing and verifying corrective actions.

Table of Contents

What is 8D Problem Solving?

The 8D Problem-Solving methodology was developed in the late 1980s  by Ford Motor Company. The term “8D” stands for “Eight Disciplines,” which represent the eight critical steps in problem-solving.

Initially it was only intended to resolve issues within the automotive manufacturing process. However, over the year since then the methodology has gained universal acceptance and is now applied across various sectors. The 8D approach was heavily influenced by quality management systems like Total Quality Management (TQM) and methodologies like Six Sigma and forms a key part of quality roles and Six sigma qualifications.

8D is also encourages collaborative team based approach to addressing issues in the workplace This methodology was purposefully designed to be a cross-functional effort, ensuring to bring together expertise from different departments or disciplines to comprehensively address an issue by looking at it from all point of view. Here are the key components:

  • Preparation: Before diving into problem-solving, the team gathers all necessary resources and tools.

  • Team Establishment: A cross-functional team is assembled, each member having a specific role and responsibility.

  • Problem Description: The issue at hand is clearly defined to ensure everyone has a shared understanding.

  • Interim Actions: Short-term solutions are implemented to contain the problem and prevent further damage.

  • Root Cause Analysis: Various tools and methods are used to identify the real cause of the problem.

  • Permanent Corrective Actions: Long-term solutions are selected and verified to eliminate the root cause.

  • Implementation: The long-term solutions are implemented across the board, including necessary changes to policies and procedures.

  • Prevent Recurrence: Measures are taken to ensure that the problem does not occur again.

  • Team Recognition: The team is congratulated and acknowledged for their efforts.

 

8D Process Infographic

How does 8D Compare to over Problem-Solving Methods?

Between quality management systems and lean six sigma there are several problem-solving methodologies such as PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act), DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control), and A3. However the combination of the 8D steps results in a comprehensive frame work that is:

  1. Team-Oriented: Unlike some methodologies that can be carried out by individuals, 8D strongly emphasizes team collaboration as a core principle as seen in steps D1 and D8.

  2. Structured Framework: 8D provides a very detailed, step-by-step guide for solving complex problems, by breaking it down in to logical steps making it easier to manage and track progress.

  3. Broad Applicability: While some methodologies like DMAIC are closely tied to Six Sigma, 8D can be applied in various contexts without being tied to a particular quality management system.

  4. Focus on Prevention: 8D not only aims to solve the problem but also focuses on implementing changes to prevent its recurrence, making it a complete approach to problem solving.

The 8 Disciplines Explained

D0: Prepare for the Process

Before you start 8D you should prepare for the 8D process. This phase sets the foundation for the entire methodology, ensuring that the team is able to tackle the problem effectively. Therefore, effective preparation helps in avoiding unnecessary delays and ensures that you’re not solving the wrong problem.

Within the initial preparation step you should also the time to think about what knowledge, expertise and experience you need within the team. Cross-functional teams are important, as they bring alternative perspectives and skills to the table rather than everyone looking at the problem from one point of view. Make sure you consider expertise, availability, and interest when selecting team members.

Team - Learnleansigma

D1: Establish the Team

In D1 you should establish the team by clearly defining the roles and responsibilities for each team member. This includes assigning a team leader, subject matter experts, and roles for data collection, analysis, and communication this helps to provide the team members clarity on how they will be involved and contribute to the success of the problems solving activity.

Team Composition

Once roles are defined, where possible ensure that the team is balanced in terms of skills and expertise. A well-rounded team will be more effective in tackling various aspects of the problem.

Communication

Establish clear methods communication, both within the team and with external stakeholders. Such as deciding on regular meeting schedules that everyone can attend, reporting formats, and tools for collaboration.

D2: Describe the Problem

In D2 it is time to create a well formed problem statement. This step is key as it provides a foundation for understanding the problem which will lead to generally more successful problem-solving. It ensures that everyone clearly understands what needs to be addressed, setting the scope for the entire process. Ensure that the problem is clearly understood by everyone in the team at this stage to prevent confusion later on in the process.

5W1H Method of creating a Problem Definition

Use data gathering techniques such as observations, interviews, and document reviews can help to precisely identify the problem. A useful tool to use at this stage could be the 5W1H Problem definition method.

You can find out more about this method with our 5W1H guide.

Problem Definition - is / is not template

Problem Definition – is / is not template

When creating your problem definition ensure to be specific, measurable, and unambiguous when stating the problem. You should avoid generalities and ensure that the problem statement is understandable to someone unfamiliar with the issue. If you are new to this process it may be helpful to give the statement to someone unfamiliar to the process and see if they understand it or if they have questions. You can then clarify any questions by adjusting the problem description to improve the claity.

D3: Implement and Verify Interim Actions

In D3 while the team is investigating the root cause, interim actions are must be implement to contain the problem and minimize its impact. This is particularly important in critical situations affecting safety, compliance, or customer satisfaction. 

In this step you should identify, plan, and execute short-term fixes that can quickly contain the problem. This could include quarantining the product to ensure it is not sent out to the customer or even pausing production lines that continue to product defects. Ensure these actions are documented for future reference.

Use metrics and KPIs to gauge the effectiveness of the interim actions. Make adjustments as necessary.

D4: Root Cause Analysis

D4 is where you start to understand what is causing the issue by identifying the underlying reason for the problem. The objective is to find the root cause, not just the symptoms.

Identifying a root cause

At this stage there are a range of quality and lean six sigma tools that can be used to conduct root cause analysis, which can include the Fishbone Diagram for structured brainstorming and the 5 Whys technique for causal chain analysis.

We have a range of guides on all of these techniques for you to use.

RCA Example Fishbone analysis

 

Once identified, it is important validate the root cause through experimentation or additional data analysis to ensure it’s the actual cause and not a symptom, this can often be an overlook critical step in the root cause process.

D5: Choose and Verify Permanent Corrective Actions

In D5 you need to choose what actions to be taken to prevent the problem reoccurring and any solutions implemented should be verified that the actions correct the problem this can involve trial runs, further data collection and inspections of product or services being produced.

 

You should also consider factors like cost, impact, and feasibility when choosing a permanent corrective action and should also conduct a risk assessment to evaluate potential negative outcomes of the actions taken

An implementation or action plan is often useful to document at this stage to detail the steps for implementation, assign responsibilities, and set timelines.

D6: Implement Permanent Corrective Actions

Once verified, implement the corrective actions across all relevant departments or processes. This can involved documenting the new process and training out to all stakeholders involved to ensure the new process is followed and that the stakeholders understand the reason for the change.

At this point you should continue to regularly monitor the situation to ensure the corrective actions are sustained and effective, this could be for a period of 30, 60 or 90 days after the problem was resolved to ensure the new process has become a sustained and issues do not reoccur. 

D7: Prevent Recurrence

In D7 to prevent recurrent you should review and update organizational policies or standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent a recurrence of the problem and document the new standard process

It is important to conduct regular reviews to continuously monitor the process and ensure procedures are being followed but also to identify further opportunities for process improvement.

D8: Congratulate the Team

The final step D8, after the hard work and successful problem resolution, it is important to acknowledging and congratulating the team is vital for morale and future engagement. With the recognition of a successful 8D Problem-solving activity complete you are more likely to encourage future participation as the method gets a reputation as being useful and successful at solving problems. 

Whether it’s a team lunch, certificates of achievement, or simply a public acknowledgment, celebrate the success in a way that resonates with your team.

Finally it is always important to conduct a lessons-learned session and document the insights gained during the process for future reference. This can be used as a future point of reference for problem solving activities.

Conclusion

Mastering the art of problem-solving is crucial in today’s complex and fast-paced environment. The 8D Problem-Solving methodology offers a structured, team-based approach to tackling challenges that can arise in any sector, be it manufacturing, public services, or logistics. This guide has walked you through each of the eight disciplines, offering best practices and highlighting common pitfalls to avoid. We’ve also enriched your understanding through real-world case studies that demonstrate the methodology’s versatility and effectiveness. Remember, the strength of 8D lies not just in identifying and resolving problems, but also in preventing their recurrence through systemic improvements. By adhering to the principles and steps outlined in this guide, you’re well on your way to becoming an adept problem solver, capable of driving continuous improvement in your organization.

References

A: 8D problem solving is a systematic approach used to address and resolve complex problems. It is widely utilized in various industries to identify the root causes of issues, develop effective solutions, and prevent their recurrence.

A: The name “8D” refers to the eight disciplines or steps involved in the problem-solving process. Each discipline represents a specific stage in the methodology, allowing for a structured and comprehensive approach to problem resolution.

A: The eight disciplines in problem solving, often abbreviated as 8D, are as follows:

  1. D1: Form a team
  2. D2: Define the problem
  3. D3: Implement containment actions
  4. D4: Determine the root cause
  5. D5: Develop and implement corrective actions
  6. D6: Validate the effectiveness of corrective actions
  7. D7: Prevent recurrence
  8. D8: Congratulate the team

A: Forming a team at the beginning of the 8D problem-solving process helps ensure that the right individuals with the necessary expertise are involved in addressing the problem. The team collaboratively works towards understanding the issue, analyzing data, and developing effective solutions.

A: Determining the root cause (D4) involves conducting a thorough analysis of the problem. Various tools and techniques, such as cause-and-effect diagrams, 5 Whys, and data analysis, are employed to identify the underlying factors contributing to the problem.

A: Yes, the 8D problem-solving methodology is a versatile approach that can be applied to various types of problems across different industries. It provides a structured framework for problem resolution and can be tailored to suit the specific needs and requirements of different situations.

Author

Picture of Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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