eight-disciplines-model

What Is The Eight Disciplines Model And Why It Matters In Business

The eight disciplines (8D) model is a problem-solving framework that is used to identify, correct, and then eliminate problems. The eight disciplines model was first used by the U.S. Military in the Second World War. In more modern times, it was popularised in a 1987 Ford Motor Company manual on a team-oriented approach to problem-solving, based on eight sequential steps.

Understanding the eight disciplines model

The model can be used in any industry that experiences difficult, critical, or recurring problems. It is particularly useful in process-oriented businesses that are looking to scale or are suffering growing pains as a result of scaling.

Problems in the model are tackled by addressing eight key disciplines that help identify (and provide corrective actions for) the root cause of a problem.

In the next section, we’ll take a look at each in more detail.

Using the eight disciplines model in practice

Applying the model to a real-world problem involves working through the following steps sequentially. 

Discipline 1 – Assemble a team

The first step is to assemble a team with varying degrees of experience from different departments within the organization. By considering a diverse range of opinions, there is more chance the problem will be solved. A team leader should also be appointed to ensure a collaborative process.

Discipline 2 – Describe the problem

Using data or whatever information necessary, describe and define the problem by way of a problem statement. To arrive at this point, ask questions according to the 5W and 2H method:

  • What is happening? In other words, what is the problem?
  • Who is being affected by the problem?
  • Where is it occurring?
  • When – or how frequently – is the problem occurring?
  • Why is the problem occurring?
  • How does it take place?
  • How much is the problem costing the business? Quantify in monetary terms where appropriate.

Discipline 3 – Formulate a containment plan

Containment involves isolating the problem from regular operations until permanent preventative action can occur. This step is especially important when customer or employee safety is at risk.

Many businesses stop here and confuse containment with a solution. However, addressing the symptoms of a problem are likely to lead to problem recurrence.

Discipline 4 – Identify the root cause

With the problem in containment, more resources can be devoted to root cause identification. There is a raft of methods available to achieve this, including the 5 Whys, Fishbone diagrams, and Pareto charts.

5-whys-method
The 5 Whys method is an interrogative problem-solving technique that seeks to understand cause-and-effect relationships. At its core, the technique is used to identify the root cause of a problem by asking the question of why five times. This might unlock new ways to think about a problem and therefore devise a creative solution to solve it.
fishbone-diagram
The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.

Regardless of the method chosen, root causes should wherever possible be backed up by hard quantitative data.

Discipline 5 – Analyse and verify corrective actions

With the data from the previous step, perform small-scale tests to verify whether the solution works in a real-world scenario. If the tests fail, go back to step four.

Discipline 6 – Implement corrective action

Once solutions from small-scale tests have been proven, they can then be implemented on a larger scale. When doing so, corrective actions must be monitored closely to determine their long-term viability.

Discipline 7 – Prevent recurrence

If a solution proves to be a long-term fix, then all systems and associated policies and procedures must be updated to reflect the change. 

It’s also helpful to brainstorm how this solution might be applied to other problems – whether they be pre-existing problems or potential future problems.

Discipline 8 – Evaluate the process

Lastly, it’s important to thank each member of the team for their contribution. If a business is so inclined, it may choose to reward staff with a financial bonus or by mention in company announcements. This builds culture which results in engaged employees working collaboratively to identify and address critical problems.

Key takeaways

  • The eight disciplines model is a team-oriented problem-solving methodology for addressing recurring, critical, or difficult problems.
  • The eight disciplines model was originally used by the U.S. Military during the Second World War. It was later adopted for use in business by Ford and today, can be used in virtually any industry.
  • The eight disciplines model must be performed in sequential order so that problems can be temporarily isolated while a permanent solution is devised.

Connected Decision-Making Frameworks

Cynefin Framework

cynefin-framework
The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.

SWOT Analysis

swot-analysis
A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Personal SWOT Analysis

personal-swot-analysis
The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Pareto Analysis

pareto-principle-pareto-analysis
The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

failure-mode-and-effects-analysis
A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Blindspot Analysis

blindspot-analysis
A Blindspot Analysis is a means of unearthing incorrect or outdated assumptions that can harm decision making in an organization. The term “blindspot analysis” was first coined by American economist Michael Porter. Porter argued that in business, outdated ideas or strategies had the potential to stifle modern ideas and prevent them from succeeding. Furthermore, decisions a business thought were made with care caused projects to fail because major factors had not been duly considered.

Comparable Company Analysis

comparable-company-analysis
A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

cost-benefit-analysis
A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Agile Business Analysis

agile-business-analysis
Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

SOAR Analysis

soar-analysis
A SOAR analysis is a technique that helps businesses at a strategic planning level to: Focus on what they are doing right. Determine which skills could be enhanced. Understand the desires and motivations of their stakeholders.

STEEPLE Analysis

steeple-analysis
The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Pestel Analysis

pestel-analysis
The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

DESTEP Analysis

destep-analysis
A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Paired Comparison Analysis

paired-comparison-analysis
A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced

Read Next: Mental ModelsBiasesBounded RationalityMandela EffectDunning-Kruger EffectLindy EffectCrowding Out EffectBandwagon EffectDecision-Making Matrix.

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