Problem solving that works!

March 24, 2020



Dr. W Edwards Deming in the 1970s developed what he famously called 14 Points For Management.

Some may say ..”the 1970s is old hat, haven’t you got something a bit more contemporary?” It is interesting to note though, that when the Leadership At Work Team run this module today and we ask practising managers how many of these points are relevant to their organisation they invariably say “pretty much all of them.” And the most relevant of the 14 points that is usually ranked number one by participants is point 5.




Find Problems. It is management’s job to work continually on the system.


After all 85% of the problems in organisations are what Deming referred to as Systems Problems.

Since Deming of course we have had TQM, Six Sigma, 5S, Lean and many other improvement methodologies. Most of these are variations on the earlier tools and techniques of productivity and quality improvement.


During this period Paul Carey put together a Problem Solving 10 step model incorporating all the essential tools of Problem Solving and Decision Making. These included Data Gathering and Analysis, Kepner Tregoe techniques, root cause analysis, the 5 Whys, brainstorming, lateral thinking etc. What’s really interesting about this comprehensive model has been when it has been applied in a wide array of industries and problems the results have been truly remarkable! Serious ongoing and stubborn problems have been solved, measurable and significant improvements to quality have been recorded and literally millions of dollars have been saved and customer complaints eliminated or greatly reduced, using the 10 Problem Solving Steps.

10 Problem Solving Steps


So here are the 10 Steps

1  Agreeing on the problem

2  Agreeing on the goal

3  Getting facts about the problem

4  Looking for causes

5  Picking the most likely causes

6  Checking most likely cause against the facts

7  Thinking up possible ways of problem solving

8  Picking the best way

9  Checking the best way against the goal

10  Putting the best way into action


Importantly within each of the 10 Steps is a checklist question set to ensure the correct data is being collected, the right people are working on the problem, the root cause analysis is being correctly applied and the whole process is being rigorously followed.


The Leadership At Work Team is available to facilitate the 10 Step process on your current issues and even train your work teams to apply the process in the future.

We are currently putting the whole process on line for clients to purchase the package but in the meantime we can assist either directly or virtually.


Robert J Re