Are you a leader struggling to achieve the results you’re accountable for because you cannot find the right solutions to help you quickly improve performance?
In this article I’m going to share with you a simple three=step system that will allow you to quickly identify, rank and select solutions to overcome the key root causes why you are NOT meeting required target levels.
Step 1 – Create solution team
Your first step is to create a “solutions” team who will research and identify possible actions they believe will overcome the key root causes that are preventing you from meeting required target levels.
One of the biggest mistakes leaders make when trying to improve performance is they blindly select, or guess solutions without first identifying with data, what are the key reasons why performance is below target levels in the first place?
To learn how to identify the key reasons why you are not meeting target levels, then please watch the video – Secrets to Rapid Process Improvement where I show you a simple three step system to discover why you are not meeting target levels.
You should select solution team members who have knowledge, experience, influence, and authority over the specific process whose performance measure is below target.
At your first team meeting, begin by reviewing the performance measure that is below target. I like to show the results using a trend chart displaying your performance as bars and a line displaying the required target level.
Next share the key root causes as to why performance is below target and then begin brainstorming possible solutions with your team. Go around the room asking each team member to share possible solutions they believe will overcome the key root causes and will result in improved performance.
Step 2 – Score and Rank Solutions
With your list of possible solutions identified, step two is where you will score and rank them using a solution scoring matrix tool that includes three parts.
The left column is where you will type in the list of possible solutions you are wanting to evaluate. Across the top is your scoring categories and a scoring scale within each category. And the third part, are the rows where you will record the individual and total scores for each possible solution.
The most common scoring categories used to evaluate solutions include: the cost to Implement, the ease of implementing, the amount training required, how much equipment and technology is required, and the potential positive impact the solution will have on closing the performance gaps.
Of course, these are just suggestions, and you will want to modify the categories based upon your unique needs.
Next is to create a scoring scale within each category. The most common is 3-point scale, which is what I prefer to use. It’s simple to explain and score each solution. But if you need a greater range, then adjust to a 5- or even a 10-point scale.
You want your scoring scale to be higher when it is favorable to making a positive impact. For example, if the cost to implement the solution you believe would be high, it gets a score of only 1. A 2 for medium, and 3 if the cost is low or none.
Another example is the solutions potential positive impact to close the performance gap – if low or none it gets only a 1. A 2 for medium impact, and 3 for high if you believe it will improve performance.
With your scoring categories and scoring scales identified, next is to score each possible solution. You have a couple options when scoring. First, you can score together as a team, discussing each solution against your criteria, and come to a consensus on a score.
But if you are concerned about individuals or leaders influencing the scores, then make the decision to have everyone score privately by emailing or printing out individual copies of the solution scoring matrix tool and having each member score privately.
Step 3 – Select Solutions
Step 3 is where you will select a solution or combination of solutions you believe will improve performance. But before you select any solution, it a good practice to first remind the team once again of the performance measure and gap you are trying to close by showing the trend chart and reviewing the key root causes that were identified as to why you are not meeting required target levels.
This will help the solution team members select targeted solutions that will address the specific key root causes as to why performance is below target level.
It’s also important to remember when considering which solutions to implement your team believes will have the greatest likelihood of closing the performance gap, you do not have to pick the highest scoring solution.
Instead, consider the top 3 to 5 scoring solutions and discuss as a team which solution, or combination of solutions to implement considering each of the scoring criteria – the cost to Implement, the ease of implementing the solution, the amount training required, how much equipment and technology are required to implement the solution, and the potential positive impact the solution will have on closing the performance gap.
Advantages Solution Matrix
While the use of the solution scoring matrix does take some time, but in the long run, you will improve performance much faster. Below is what I’ve found to be the top three key reasons why you use our three-step system to identify, rank and select solutions.
First you will identify better solutions – because you are scoring and ranking solutions against a balanced set of criteria.
Second you will improve faster – this is because you have selected target solutions to overcome specific root causes as to why performance is below target and not guessing what solutions to implement.
And third you will use much less resources to improve performance – this includes both your staff time and other financial and non-financial resources. This is because you are NOT repeatedly trying random solutions over and over hoping to improve performance.
Download Solution Scoring Matrix
To download the solution scoring matrix too, click the button below.
The excel document includes seven tabs. First is the Rapid Process Improvement or (RPI) Team Worksheet. This is where you can document the names of who is on the root cause team and the key root causes by the 4Ws – Who, what, where. The second tab is the root cause check sheet you will record your possible root causes and document the frequency each contributed to an event not meeting target levels during your root cause study.
You then have four individual Pareto chart tabs, one for each of the 4 Ws – Who is not meeting target levels: What is not meeting target, Where and When are you no meeting target levels. And finally, a tab is the solution scoring matrix tool where you can document, rank, and prioritize solutions to overcome each of your key root causes.
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David Harrawood, President Baldrige Group Consulting