What Is Eight Disciplines Problem Solving? The Eight Disciplines Problem Solving In A Nutshell

Eight disciplines problem solving was initially developed by the Ford Motor Company to solve problems associated with engineering design and manufacturing. Management wanted to develop a system where key personnel could work on recurring or chronic issues. Eight disciplines problem solving (8D) is a problem resolution method focused on product and process improvement.

ConceptEight Disciplines (8D) Problem Solving is a structured problem-solving methodology used to identify, analyze, and resolve complex problems in various industries, particularly manufacturing and engineering. The 8D approach aims to provide a systematic and effective way to address issues, improve processes, and prevent the recurrence of problems. It encourages cross-functional teamwork and continuous improvement. The name “8D” comes from the eight steps or disciplines that make up the process. Each discipline guides teams through the problem-solving journey, from initial problem identification to implementing sustainable solutions and monitoring their effectiveness.
Key DisciplinesThe Eight Disciplines (8D) process consists of the following key disciplines:
D1: Team Formation: Assemble a cross-functional team with the necessary expertise to address the problem effectively.
D2: Problem Description: Clearly define the problem, including its scope, impact, and relevant data.
D3: Containment Action: Take immediate actions to contain the problem and prevent it from causing further harm.
D4: Root Cause Analysis (RCA): Analyze the problem to identify its root causes using techniques like the “5 Whys” or fishbone diagrams.
D5: Corrective Action: Develop and implement corrective actions to address the root causes.
D6: Verification of Corrective Actions: Verify the effectiveness of the corrective actions and ensure they prevent the problem’s recurrence.
D7: Preventive Actions: Identify and implement preventive measures to avoid similar issues in the future.
D8: Closure and Team Recognition: Document the entire process, including lessons learned, and recognize the team’s efforts.
ApplicationThe 8D problem-solving method is widely applied in manufacturing, engineering, and other industries facing complex issues or defects in products, processes, or services. It is also utilized in quality management and continuous improvement initiatives, such as Six Sigma and Total Quality Management (TQM). Additionally, the 8D approach can be used in various sectors to address a range of problems, from supply chain disruptions to customer complaints. Its systematic structure makes it valuable for organizations seeking efficient and effective solutions to recurring problems.
Process FlowThe 8D process follows a structured flow:
Problem Identification: The process begins with recognizing the problem or defect.
Team Formation: A cross-functional team is assembled to address the problem.
Problem Description: The team defines the problem’s scope, impact, and collects relevant data.
Containment Action: Immediate actions are taken to prevent the problem from worsening.
Root Cause Analysis (RCA): The team investigates and identifies the root causes of the problem.
Corrective Action: Effective solutions are developed and implemented to address the root causes.
Verification of Corrective Actions: The team ensures that the corrective actions work as intended and prevent recurrence.
Preventive Actions: Steps are taken to prevent similar issues in the future.
Closure and Team Recognition: The process is documented, lessons learned are captured, and the team is recognized for its efforts.
BenefitsThe 8D problem-solving approach offers several benefits:
Structured Methodology: It provides a systematic and structured framework for addressing complex problems, ensuring that no critical steps are overlooked.
Cross-Functional Collaboration: The involvement of a diverse team with different perspectives enhances problem analysis and solution development.
Continuous Improvement: By identifying root causes and implementing preventive measures, organizations can continually improve processes and products.
Problem Prevention: The 8D process emphasizes preventive actions to reduce the likelihood of similar problems occurring in the future.
Documentation: Detailed documentation ensures that knowledge is retained and shared across the organization.
ChallengesChallenges associated with 8D problem solving may include:
Resource Intensity: The process can be time and resource-intensive, requiring a dedicated team and data analysis.
Complex Problems: While effective for complex issues, it may be less suitable for simple problems that can be resolved with less effort.
Resistance to Change: Implementing preventive actions and changing established processes may face resistance within the organization.
Real-World ApplicationThe 8D methodology is widely used in industries like automotive manufacturing, aerospace, healthcare, and electronics to address quality issues, defects, and process improvements. It is also applied in service industries to improve customer satisfaction and resolve complex operational challenges.

Understanding eight disciplines problem solving

Eight disciplines problem solving was initially developed by the Ford Motor Company to solve problems associated with engineering design and manufacturing. Management wanted to develop a system where key personnel could work on recurring or chronic issues.

A manual and subsequent course material was later developed and incorporated into Ford’s Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS) system in 1987. Today, Ford’s 8Ds manual is extensive and features chapters on addressing, quantifying, and resolving engineering issues. 

Though common in the automotive industry, eight disciplines problem solving has also been used in retail, finance, healthcare, and government. Generally speaking, the method is useful in any industry where a product or process improvement is desired. It has achieved relative success because it is easy to teach and utilizes the best practices from various existing approaches.

Ultimately, 8D is designed to find the root cause of a problem and devise a short-term fix. Then, a longer-term solution is found to prevent problem recurrence.  

Implementing the 8D approach

The model typically includes eight disciplines, or stages, that the problem solving team must work through:

  1. Form a team (D1) – the problem-solving team should only include competent persons actively involved in the process. Smaller teams are more efficient and should be made up of members from different disciplines. Teams must also be led by an individual familiar with the 8D process.
  2. Describe the problem (D2) – the problem must then be described in detail and supported by data. In other words, it should not be based on opinion. What went wrong? How did it happen? Who was involved? How many times has it happened and what is the extent of the failure? 
  3. Interim Containment Action (D3) – during the third stage, a short-term (interim) solution is devised before a more permanent action is developed. The Interim Containment Action (ICA) must prevent additional customer dissatisfaction. Examples of ICAs include customer complaint awareness training or the segregation of defective materials or equipment.
  4. Root cause analysis (D4) – then, identify every root cause that could explain why the problem occurred. Teams may choose to use the 5 Whys, Affinity Diagram, or Fishbone Diagram tool to identify problem root causes. Each root cause must be validated through data collection and its location identified on a process flow diagram.
  5. Permanent Corrective Action (PCA) (D5) – the goal of the fifth stage is to permanently remove a root cause to prevent problem recurrence. Acceptance criteria should be established, including mandatory requirements and wants. Each PCA should also undergo a risk assessment or Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) to identify potential vulnerabilities. 
  6. Implement and validate the PCA (D6) – successful implementation of a PCA requires proper planning. The plan should detail implementation steps, clarify success standards, and reflect on the lessons learned. Lastly, the efficacy of the PDA should be measured.
  7. Prevent recurrence (D7) – to prevent a recurrence, standard operating procedures must be modified. Horizontal deployment can also be utilized to ensure a similar type of problem does not occur in other products, services, or machines.
  8. Closure and team celebration (D8) – in the final stage, team and individual efforts should be recognized and celebrated. The lessons the team has learned should also be reflected upon, as should the “before and after” comparison of the original problem. All of these measures allow for closure and solidifies the 8D approach as a habitual practice. 

Key takeaways:

  • Eight disciplines problem solving (8D) is a problem resolution method focused on product and process improvement. It was originally developed by the Ford Motor Company to identify and solve engineering and manufacturing problems.
  • While synonymous with the automotive industry, eight disciplines problem solving has also been successfully used in healthcare, finance, and government.
  • Eight disciplines problem solving requires teams to move through eight disciplines or stages. The 8D approach is relatively easy to teach and understand and combines the best practices of other similar tools.

Key Highlights of Eight Disciplines Problem Solving (8D):

  • Origins and Purpose:
    • Developed by the Ford Motor Company, 8D was designed to address recurring or chronic issues in engineering design and manufacturing.
    • It aims to find the root cause of a problem and implement both short-term and long-term solutions for product and process improvement.
  • Broad Applicability:
    • While initially used in the automotive industry, 8D has found success in various sectors, including retail, finance, healthcare, and government, wherever product or process improvement is needed.
  • Problem-Solving Process:
    • The 8D approach involves eight distinct disciplines or stages that a problem-solving team must go through:
      • D1: Form a competent team with members from different disciplines, led by someone familiar with the 8D process.
      • D2: Describe the problem in detail, relying on data rather than opinions.
      • D3: Implement an Interim Containment Action (ICA) to prevent further customer dissatisfaction.
      • D4: Conduct a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) using tools like the 5 Whys, Affinity Diagram, or Fishbone Diagram to identify and validate root causes.
      • D5: Develop Permanent Corrective Actions (PCA) to permanently remove root causes and conduct risk assessments.
      • D6: Implement and validate the PCAs, measuring their effectiveness.
      • D7: Prevent recurrence by modifying standard operating procedures and using horizontal deployment to prevent similar issues.
      • D8: Celebrate the team’s efforts, reflect on lessons learned, and ensure the 8D approach becomes a habitual practice.
  • Data-Driven and Preventive:
    • 8D emphasizes the use of data to understand problems and their root causes.
    • It focuses on both short-term containment and long-term prevention to improve product and process quality.

Case Studies

D1 – Team FormationAssemble a cross-functional team with the necessary skills to address the problem effectively.– Ensures diverse perspectives and expertise. – Increases problem-solving capacity. – Enhances collaboration and communication.Example: In an automotive manufacturing company, a team is formed to address a recurring issue with defective airbags. The team includes engineers, quality inspectors, and production personnel.
D2 – Problem DescriptionDefine the problem by providing a clear and concise description. Gather data and evidence related to the issue.– Focuses efforts on the root cause. – Provides a common understanding of the problem. – Guides data collection and analysis.Example: The team describes the issue as “Intermittent airbag deployment failure during vehicle assembly.” They collect data on when and where the failures occur and any patterns associated with them.
D3 – Containment ActionImplement immediate actions to contain the problem, prevent its escalation, and protect customers or processes.– Minimizes the impact of the problem. – Demonstrates commitment to customer satisfaction. – Buys time for thorough analysis and resolution.Example: The team installs additional quality checks and inspections in the assembly line to catch defective airbags before they reach customers.
D4 – Root Cause AnalysisIdentify the underlying causes of the problem using techniques like the 5 Whys, Fishbone Diagram, or Fault Tree Analysis.– Addresses the core issue, not just symptoms. – Helps prevent recurrence of the problem. – Informs corrective actions.Example: After extensive analysis, the team discovers that the airbag failures are primarily caused by a defective sensor component supplied by a specific vendor.
D5 – Corrective ActionDevelop and implement corrective actions to permanently resolve the problem. These actions should address the root causes.– Eliminates the root causes. – Prevents future occurrences of the problem. – May require process changes, design modifications, or supplier updates.Example: The team collaborates with the vendor to redesign and improve the sensor component. They also update the quality control procedures to catch any faulty components.
D6 – VerificationConfirm the effectiveness of the corrective actions through testing, analysis, and data verification.– Ensures that the problem is resolved. – Validates that the corrective actions are successful. – Provides evidence for closure.Example: The team conducts extensive testing of the modified sensor component and the updated quality control process to verify that they are working as intended.
D7 – Preventive ActionsImplement preventive measures to avoid similar problems in the future.– Proactively identifies and mitigates potential issues. – Enhances overall process or system reliability. – Demonstrates commitment to continuous improvement.Example: The team establishes a regular supplier audit program and implements additional quality checks to prevent similar component defects in the future.
D8 – ClosureDocument the entire problem-solving process, including actions taken, results, and lessons learned. Communicate findings and close the case.– Captures knowledge for future reference. – Ensures accountability and transparency. – Facilitates organizational learning.Example: The team creates a comprehensive report detailing the airbag issue, the root cause, corrective actions, verification results, and preventive measures. They share this report with relevant stakeholders and close the case.

Connected Brainstorming Frameworks


Starbursting is a structured brainstorming technique with a focus on question generation. Starbursting is a structured form of brainstorming allowing product teams to cover all bases during the ideation process. It utilizes a series of questions to systematically work through various aspects of product development, forcing teams to evaluate ideas based on viability.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciate Inquiry (AI) is an organizational change methodology that focuses on strengths and not on weaknesses. Appreciate Inquiry was created by management professors David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. The Appreciate Inquiry is also known as the 5-D Cycle, an iterative cycle describing five distinct phases, made of define, discover, dream, design, and destiny.

Round-robin Brainstorming

Round-robin brainstorming is a collective and iterative approach to brainstorming. Brainstorming is an effective way of generating fresh ideas for an organization. Round-robin brainstorming is a balanced approach, employing an iterative, circular process that builds on the previous contribution of each participant.

Constructive Controversy

Constructive controversy is a theory arguing that controversial discussions create a good starting point for understanding complex problems. A constructive controversy discussion is performed by following six steps: organize information and derive conclusions; presenting and advocating decisions; being challenged by opposing views; conceptual conflict and uncertainty; epistemic curiosity and perspective-taking; and reconceptualization, synthesis, and integration.

Affinity Grouping

Affinity grouping is a collaborative prioritization process where group participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities according to their similarities. Affinity grouping is a broad and versatile process based on simple but highly effective ideas. It helps teams generate and then organize teams according to their similarity or likeness.

The 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.


Rolestorming as a term was first mentioned by personal development guru Rick Griggs in the 1980s.  Rolestorming is a brainstorming technique where participants pretend they are other people when sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Reverse Brainstorming

Reverse brainstorming takes advantage of the natural human tendency to more easily see problems than solutions. What’s more, many individuals when placed in a traditional brainstorming environment will find it difficult to become creative on command. Reverse brainstorming is an approach where individuals brainstorm the various ways a plan could fail. 

Lotus Diagram

A lotus diagram is a creative tool for ideation and brainstorming. The diagram identifies the key concepts from a broad topic for simple analysis or prioritization.

Futures Wheel

The futures wheel was invented in 1971 by Jerome C. Glenn while he was studying at the Antioch Graduate School of Education.  The futures wheel is a brainstorming framework for visualizing the future consequences of a particular trend or event.

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