Shotgun is Not an Approach to Solving Problems

Shotgun is Not an Approach to Solving Problems

Solving problems is the lifelong work of operations committed to continuously improving. Operations pursuing excellence avoid using the shotgun approach to solve their problems for two critical reasons: it works without learning and it is unsustainable.

The shotgun approach works, but without learning

Maintenance was called to the rolling mill again because the coils being produced had spots from contamination in the process.

The maintenance supervisor instructed her team on exactly what to do to solve the problem. The team quickly and efficiently removed the rolls and replaced them. They built a temporary canopy over the rolling station to prevent anything from dripping from the roof onto the sheet. They closed the exit door – that had been opened to let some air in on humid days – and replaced the sign that had been destroyed, which read, “only open in case of emergency evacuation.” And for good measure, the process engineer and operator agreed to relieve the roller tension just enough to maintain the finish but not cause a mark from almost unavoidable contamination. As a result, the spots were gone!

“What caused the spots?,” the relieved manager of rolling asked.

“I don’t know” was the answer,” but they’re gone.”

Their approach worked, but without learning for next time.

It is unsustainable 

The relationship between cause and effect is important to all of us. It is the foundation for conditional learning. We see dark clouds and we prepare for rain. Not all of us understand the specific science, but we understand the relationship.

When we don’t see the relationship, or even worse doubt it, and we see it as an inconvenience, we are less likely to respond. Things like driving combustion engine cars is causing the climate to change. Couldn’t it be that the climate was always changing? Could it be something else?

The shotgun approach to solving problems is the same. Who’s to say leaving the door open on a humid day is what really caused the spots on the roll. So it isn’t long before someone gets hot, takes the chance, and opens the door. The problem-solving doesn’t last.

Help your organization avoid the shotgun approach and encourage them to look for one problem – one cause – one solution!

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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