No, this isn't a post about the the 80s Chicago tune “Hard Habit to Break.” It's about individual habits related to problem solving that are hard to break.
“A problem well stated is a problem half solved”
In Lean problem solving models, including PDCA/PDSA and the A3 methodology, the focus is on not jumping to solutions too quickly… and it's a hard habit to break, for all of us.
Defining a problem well includes understanding the current state. We need to understand the gap between what should be happening and what is actually happening. We then work to understand the root cause of the problem…
Immediately jumping into solutions brainstorming can really short circuit good problem solving. We can waste time going down rat holes, discussing ideas that don't address the root cause and won't really address the issue we've come together to discuss.
I've tried focusing on this approach for a long time, but I still find myself jumping to solutions at times… but I generally try to be aware of it.
I think people tend to go through this progression:
- I'm unaware that I'm jumping to solutions
- I'm aware of it, but I keep talking about solutions anyway
- I'm aware of it and I can stop and refocus on problem definition
Does anybody ever get to a “step 4” of never jumping to solutions? I think that would be the sign of a really disciplined Lean problem solver.
What's your own experience with this?
Updating this to include a link to a 2014 article I wrote for LinkedIn: