Problem Solving (8D, 7 Steps Method, 5W2H) Work Instruction

Problem Solving instructs how to solve difficult problems using formal, documented techniques. This ensures that thorough analysis is applied & enables others to review the thought process (allowing them to join in if the problem persists/escalates). If angles are missing, the reviewers can more easily see that a key factor was not considered. If the problem was difficult or severe, do a post-mortem & lessons-learned as well to ensure appropriate measures are taken to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

8D Method:

Use the 8D Method Problem Solving Worksheet.

  1. Use Team Approach. Establish a small group of people with the knowledge, time, authority and skill to solve the problem and implement corrective actions. The group must select a team leader.
  2. Describe the Problem. Describe the problem in measurable terms. Specify the internal or external customer problem by describing it in specific terms. Be sure to cover 5W2H.
  3. Implement and Verify Short-Term Corrective Actions. Define and implement those intermediate actions that will protect the customer from the problem until permanent corrective action is implemented. Verify with data the effectiveness of these actions.
  4. Define end Verify Root Causes. Identify all potential causes which could explain why the problem occurred. Test each potential cause against the problem description and data. Identify alternative corrective actions to eliminate root cause.
  5. Verify Corrective Actions. Confirm that the selected corrective actions will resolve the problem for the customer and will not cause undesirable side effects. Define other actions, if necessary, based on potential severity of problem.
  6. Implement Permanent Corrective Actions. Define and implement the permanent corrective actions needed. Choose on-going controls to insure the root cause is eliminated. Once in production, monitor the long-term effects and implement additional controls as necessary.
  7. Prevent Recurrence. Modify specifications, update training, review work flow, improve practices and procedures to prevent recurrence of this and all similar problems.
  8. Congratulate Your Team. Recognize the collective efforts of your team. Publicize your achievement. Share your knowledge and learning.

7 Steps Method:

  1. Select the relatively narrow-focused theme for the problem solving.
  2. Collect and analyze data. Be sure to cover 5W2H.
  3. Analyze causes.
  4. Plan and Implement a solution.
  5. Evaluate effects.
  6. Standardize the solution.
  7. Reflect on process and next problem.

Another Method:

  1. As precisely as possible state the problem. Define "what".
  2. Many factors (materials, equipment, process, people, and environment) can affect processes and create problems. Consider all major categories of potential contributors.
  3. List probable reasons for the occurrence of the problem (action, inaction, presence, absence, state of being, on-going process).
  4. Collect data, which may be in the form of control charts, Pareto charts, etc. This data should then be analyzed objectively to determine likely contributors to the problem.
  5. Identify and communicate the causes for action to be taken. Determine what level action should be taken to prevent future occurrences, e.g. does it involve management policy or procedure, communication, or a change at the work level.
  6. Defining the criteria for successful action establishes the expected outcome for all concerned to agree upon.
  7. Often many solutions exist for a problem, defining them and listing the merits of all enables the best solution to be chosen.
  8. For problems with high impact or risk, parallel approaches may be required. Those solutions requiring significant resources should be discussed with management.
  9. Proper planning and execution are required to determine the efficacy of a proposed solution.
  10. Careful monitoring of the process is needed to determine if the root cause was identified and rectified.


  • 5W2H = Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, & How Many
  • 8D = 8 Disciplines

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