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.
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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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