Call a Band-Aid a Band-Aid: Corrections and Problem-Solving

A common mistake made in problem-solving, especially within the deviation process, is not giving enough foresight to band-aids. As I discussed in the post “Treating All Investigations the Same” it is important to be able to determine what problems need deep root-cause analysis and which ones should be more catch and release.

For catch and release you usually correct, document, and close. In these cases the problem is inherently small enough and the experience suggesting a possible course of action – the correction – sound enough, that you can proceed without root cause analysis and a solution. If those problems persist, and experience and intuition-drive solutions prove ineffective, then we might decide to engage in structured problem-solving for a more effective solution and outcome.

In the post “When troubleshooting causes trouble” I discussed that lays out the 4Cs: Concern, Cause, Countermeasure, Check Results. It is during the Countermeasure step that we determine what immediate or temporary countermeasures can be taken to reduce or eliminate the problem? Where we apply correction and immediate action.

It helps to agree on what a correction is, especially as it relates to corrective actions. Folks often get confused here. A Correction addresses the problem, it does not get to addressing the cause.

Fixing a tire, rebooting a computer, doing the dishes. These are all corrections.

As I discussed in “Design Problem Solving into the Process” good process design involves thinking of as many problems that could occur, identifying the ways to notice these problems, and having clear escalation paths. For low-risk issues, that is often just fix, record, move on. I talk a lot more about this in the post “Managing Events Systematically.”

A good problem-solving system is built to help people decide when to apply these band-aids, and when to engage in more structured problem-solving. This reliance on situational awareness is key to build into the organization.