Process Improvement Tip #1: Ensure your approach is suited to the problem you face

Diana Davis

Just because you’ve got a hammer, doesn’t mean every problem’s a nail!

In the lead up to our online event PEX Masters next month, we’re giving you 12 process improvement tips to help you jump start your initiatives for 2013. This is the first...

We’re often tempted to apply the tools that we know in order to solve the problems that are in front of us. But just because you’ve got a tool doesn’t mean it’s the most appropriate one to use. Always ask, is this the most appropriate method to tackle this problem? Would a more simple "Just Do It" approach be adequate or do we require more robust data analysis in order to get to the heart of the issue? A pragmatic approach is better than one that attempts to pigeon-hole everything into the same approach.

You should also seek out new ideas and inspiration from other disciplines: change management, project management, Theory of constraints, organizational development, etc. Just because you’re a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, for instance, doesn’t mean that you must stay within the strict confines of your methodology.

As Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs once argued diversity of experience and insight is critical. "Without enough dots to connect," he said, you "end up with very linear solutions […] The broader one's understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have."

We think the same is true about the challenges facing organizations today. The more dots you have to connect – whether they be technological trends or information about different disciplines – the more likely you’ll be able to come up with an unusual or unexpected solution to a business challenge.