What is the 8D method?

When experiencing a repetitive issue, sometimes you are not sure about what to do, how to tackle it or even where does it come from…

This is when you should think about the 8D method.

The 8D method is a Problem Solving process that helps finding out any solution by following 8 Steps or Disciplines (D is for Discipline):

  • D0. Process Preparation
  • D1. Team establishment
  • D2. Problem Description
  • D3. Initial Containment Actions
  • D4. Root Cause definition and verification
  • D5. Define the proper Permanent solution
  • D6. Implement the Permanent actions
  • D7. Prevent recidivism
  • D8. Recognize the contributions

The 8D method is based on the philosophy of:

  • Finding root causes.
  • Taking into account just facts, not assumptions.

Ford Motor Company created this process in order to solve manufacturing-line issues and nowadays it has become one of the best and more useful Problem-Solving methods ever created.

 

*If you have not read yet the “Problem Solving” page, we encourage you to do so right now since the 8D process is nothing but a Problem Solving method

 

Next, we’ll explain these 8 steps and what should you ask to yourself when developing them, but first of all you must know when to employ it.

When should you start an 8 Disciplines process?

It is not the same having a repetitive issue within a manufacturing line, than a not finding your TV’s remote control.

Since this process takes time and resources, you must think twice before starting it; maybe you have just a little unimportant issue.

6 criteria that an issue should fulfill before adopting an 8D method:

  1. There is a symptom definition; the symptom has been quantified.
  2. The Client has experienced the symptoms.
  3. After several objective measures a deviation from the standard has been found.
  4. The Root cause is unknown.
  5. The managers/owners… have committed to apply resources/money for solving the issue.
  6. The complexity of this issue would take more than “just an average person” for solving it; of course, a specialist is not considered to be an “average” person.

And now:

Which are the 8 Disciplines?

This method is supposed to last for several weeks and, just after a deep analysis, finding the root causes originating your issues and having adopted the proper Permanent Containment Actions, should you think about concluding it.

 

* Within the “Planning Templates” page, you’ll find an open ready-to-use 8D Excel Template that we’ve used on lots of projects.

Being said that, lets start with the first Discipline:

D0. Process Preparation

First of all, before starting to develop an 8D process, you should assess whether or not it would be your best option.

Sometimes, the first action you should take is an Emergency Containment action even before a deep analysis.

Key questions within D0

  • Is necessary to adopt an Emergency Response Action?
  • Are the 6 criteria required, fulfilled?

D1. Team establishment

As its name indicates, in this stage, you must define the people that will be involved in the problem solving process.

When establishing the team, you must guarantee that:

  • There must be an “Impulser”.
    • He is the one that starts this 8D process.
  • There must be a Team Leader.
    • It doesn’t have to be the one that started the process, necessarily.
  • You must take into account the background of each member.
    • Being familiarized about the overall process.
  • They must have authority when taking decisions.
    • Nobody is preventing them when taking any action, measurement or improvement.

Key questions within D1

  • What special abilities or experience would be desirable among the team members?
  • Is the team big enough but not too big?

D2. Problem Description

This stage is as simple as it sounds: describe properly the issue you are experiencing.

  • What exactly occurs?
  • Its frequency.
  • Under which circumstances.
  • Who is involved?
  • Who is detecting it?
  • Does it appear or disappear suddenly?

Sometimes, with a proper description you have half the solution.

Key questions within D2

  • Has the problem been described precisely enough?
  • How this description could be improved?
  • Has an “Is/ Is not” analysis been conducted when describing the issue?
  • Have we gathered and analyzed all the data available?

D3. Initial Containment Actions

In this stage, you must adopt the measures necessary for keeping the issue away from your clients.

You have to:

  • Define the Initial Containment measures to take.
  • Verify that they certainly contain the problem.
  • Establish a protocol that frequently reviews their effectiveness.

Key questions within D3

  • Are the Initial Containment Actions (ICA) necessary?
  • Are the right people involved in the actions taken?
  • Is everybody aware of the actions taken?

D4. Root Cause definition and verification

This is probably the most important step of all.

Here you’ll define what is causing the problem; its root cause.

  • You must also verify whether there are any points of leakage.

Once identified the Root Cause, you’ll be able to:

  • Improve the Initial Containment Actions taken.
  • Establish periodical reviews in order to check the problem status.
  • Start defining a Permanent Solution.

 

* In the “Ishikawa” page, we explain the Fishbone methodology that helps finding out problems’ root causes.

Key questions within D4

  • How has the Root Cause been verified?
  • Does this Root Cause explain all the issues explained in D2?
  • Would it be necessary to improve the controlling systems?

D5. Define the proper Permanent solution

Once you know the Root cause originating the problem, now, you must define a definitive action that fixes this problem forever.

Moreover, its efficiency must be completely proven, not being based just on suppositions.

This action must be a solid action such as:

  • A design modification.
  • The employment of a new procedure.
  • etc.

One thing you should not forget is: the solution must improve the service or product you offer to your clients.

  • If it increases the price while the Client experiences nothing new… but a price increase: You must look for another solution.

 

* In the “Problem Solving” page, we talk deeply about proper Permanent Containment Actions, so visit the page in case you haven’t done so yet.

Key questions within D5

  • Which criteria have been employed when choosing the Permanent Containment Actions?
  • Which are the data you are handling for ensure that the Root Cause will be solved?
  • Would this solution be acceptable for our clients?

D6. Implement the Permanent actions

In this stage, you must implement the Permanent action properly.

This implies:

  • Establishing an action plan with timings, in order to keep the track of the measures taken and their status.
  • Removing the Initial Containment Actions.
  • Ensuring that there is no problem with the new measures taken.
  • Having special inspection protocols post-implementation.

Key questions within D6

  • Is the action plan detailed enough?
  • When will the Temporary Containment Actions be removed?
  • How much time will be necessary to track the measures taken?

D7. Prevent recidivism

In this stage you should establish new procedures that would prevent a similar issue to take place in the future.

This stage is commonly forgotten since the Problem is already solved, but as important as solving it is learning how did it happen, and how is possible that nobody realized about it.

Usually it implies:

  • Introducing quality checklists.
  • Adopting Inspection protocols.
  • Re-designing certain processes.

Key questions within D7

  • How and where did the problem started?
  • What policies, procedures or actions allowed this problem to take place?

D8. Recognize the contributions

The sweetest Step:

Celebrate the Issue’s solution, honestly recognizing the contribution of each team member.

It is important to learn not just from the failures (D7) but also from the successes.

Key questions within D8

  • Have you got a complete list with all the team members and their contributions?
  • Do you really know how did you success?

Although this methodology seems a bit complex, full of formalities… it has proven its efficiency in several situations, so next time you experience a problem that fulfills the 6 criteria previously exposed, think about starting an 8 discipline process.

Summarizing

Sometimes, when you experience a repetitive problem that jeopardizes the trust of your clients, you should think about adopting a Problem Solving methodology.

The 8 Disciplines is one of the most employed methods and has proven its efficiency in several economic sectors.

It is based on:

  • Looking for facts, not opinions.
  • Describing properly the issues analyzed.
  • Selecting a team of people with the precise knowledge necessary for solving the problem.
  • Containing the problem with temporary actions.
  • Finding the Root causes.
  • Develop Permanent solid changes that prevent an issue to take place again.
  • Establish inspection protocols.
  • Learns from failures, and successes.

If you follow properly the 8 Disciplines, you’ll start finding out solutions for all kind of problems in different and creative ways you’ve never imagined so far.

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