And finally, we need to get our solution implemented – and in a way that the problem stays solved. We might need to monitor the situation for a while – perhaps to gain further assurance that we’ve accomplished what we set out to do – but we will often need to take one further step to truly fix it.
It’s easy to implement a good solution to a problem, only to find it returns some time later. A blocked fuel line on a car can be unblocked and the car will start but, if the cause was dirt in the fuel tank, it’s likely to recur. With a management system it’s often necessary to update operating procedure documentation to reflect the changes but, if part of the problem was people not reading them, we need to think further. If smart, we’ll have considered that in our analysis and take it into account in our solution and will implement changes to training and induction programmes, improved ways of communicating needs and consequences, etc.
When I was a student I did quite a lot of photography; this was before digital cameras came along and meant many evenings spent in the darkroom developing films and then printing my pictures. Under a suitable safelight, it was possible to see the picture gradually appear whilst the paper was in the developer tray; when it looked right, I’d take it out and immerse it in the stop bath (a dilute acetic acid mixture that neutralised the developer). Turning the full light on at that point, however, would ruin the picture as the paper was still light sensitive; the final step was to immerse the paper in the fixer bath (and then washing it to remove all final traces of chemical). Only then could the light be turned on and the print ble to be mounted and displayed.
We haven’t finished developing our solution until it’s been through the fixer…