Attributed to the Ford Motor Company, the Eight Discipline approach sets to nine clear steps to problem solving.
D0: Plan to solve a problem. This may sound obvious but, without a plan and objective, the best of intentions will probably drift off course and yield nothing. This doesn’t mean setting out every step in advance; rather, set objectives such as overall scope and timescale.
D1: Gather a team. Except for very basic problems, for which 8D may be overkill, it needs more than one person. An effective team needs to include the necessary skillsets (or ready access to what may later be needed) and those with authority to take whatever actions may eventually be needed.
D2: Describe the problem to be addressed. Map out, in appropriate detail, the current situation in order to gain a full understanding of the problem. Gather data.
D3: If necessary, define a temporary fix – something that will minimise further waste, damage, cost, etc. until a more permanent solution is found.
D4: Analyse data gathered to determine the root cause of the problem (use Ishikawa diagrams, 5-whys, etc.). Find out why the problem hasn’t previously been addressed (or why previous attempts failed).
D5: Identify solutions and choose the best. Don’t grab the first idea, or the easiest, nor ignore them. Consider all options. If necessary, test ideas to see if they will work.
D6: Implement and validate the chosen corrective actions.
D7: Implement measures to make the solution permanent. This might mean training, updating documentation, equipment modifications (or replacement).
D8: Verify that the project has made a positive difference, that the objectives have been met. Close out the project and don’t forget to recognise contributions – congratulate and celebrate success.