What is the Simplex Process?
The Simplex Process is a Problem Solving Method that Proposes 8 Steps to Find Lasting Solutions to any Problem.
The 8 Steps Proposed by the Simplex Process are:
- Problem Finding.
- Fact Finding.
- Problem Definition.
- Idea Finding.
- Sell the Idea.
These Steps must be Repeated until the Problem is Resolved.
The 8 steps of the Simplex Process
1. Problem Finding: Identify the Issue to be Solved.
- What is causing Trouble.
2. Fact Finding: Collect as much data as you can, about the Problem.
- How Often, When, How and under what Circumstances it occurs.
3. Problem Definition: Define The Root Cause of the Problem.
- What’s Causing it to happen and Why.
4. Idea Finding: Explore Different Alternatives to Solve the Problem.
- They should be Durable Solutions, rather than Temporary Patches.
5. Selection: Choose the Final Idea; the One that would Best Solve the Problem.
- Maximizing results and Minimizing the necessary Resources.
6. Planning: Define How the Final Idea will be Implemented.
- What Steps, Resources and Players will be Necessary.
7. Sell the Idea: Explain the Idea to those from whom you will need Help.
- Especially, if you don’t have the Authority to implement it on your own.
8. Action: Implement the Final Idea.
- Use Metrics to Track Progress with Objective data.
Repeat this Cycle until the Problem is Solved.
Now, let’s see the first example:
Simplex Process example
Do you think you always follow this Process when you have a Problem?
Does it seem obvious to you?
Think about your last Mobile Phone:
How do you decide that you need a new Mobile phone?
As soon as you see that it starts working slower, you probably think:
- “It has become old. I need a new one“.
You surely don’t think about all the Root Causes that may be slowing Down your Phone.
- Too many Apps.
- Too many Pictures.
What happens if, on the contrary, you use the Simplex Process?
- You are forced to Study the Problem.
- You are forced to Identify the Root Cause.
- You have to Propose different Alternatives.
- You have to Implement the Actions.
- You have to Check if the Problem is Resolved.
You wouldn’t change your phone that often.
This is a simple example of How, even if this Method seems Obvious, we don’t use it.
People rarely think much about a Root Cause that they haven’t seen before.
Few People Really sit down and look for Unexpected Root Causes.
Few People really Wonder Why a Problem is Occurring.
People tend to settle for the First explanation found.
- And that is why this method is important.
We’ll share a Practical example with you, so that you understand How it can be used.
Simplex Process examples
Let’s imagine you own a Restaurant with a Partner.
Recently, you have noticed that you have fewer Clients.
- And you don’t know Why.
Therefore, you decide to use the Simplex Process to Find out what is happening.
Problem Finding - Simplex Process example
First, you decide to compare the number of Clients you have with those you had one and two years ago.
- In case you have a Seasonal decrease.
You conclude that your Customer Decline is not Seasonal.
You are losing Clients.
Fact Finding - Simplex Process example
Once you have confirmed that you do indeed have a Decrease in Customers, you decide to collect more Data.
Then, You check What reviews your Clients have posted on the Internet.
- An extremely valuable tool that can save you a lot of time.
Then, to be sure that there is a Correlation between what they say and their Consumption, you check:
- What your Clients Order Now.
- What they used to Order.
- The evolution of their Reviews.
Problem Definition - Simplex Process example
You have found what appears to be the Root Cause of your Problem:
- Your Clients think that your Menu is too ambiguous.
You have good Dishes, but you can’t offer High quality in everything you offer.
- You can’t have good Sushi and Good Burgers… One will predominate over the other.
- One of the two options won’t be as good as the other.
You have checked the Orders and, they confirm the Reviews:
- In the beginning, people consumed more Varied Dishes but lately they have Focused on 3 dishes:
- Ribs, Burgers and Baked Potatoes.
Idea Finding - Simplex Process example
After careful analysis, you come up with the following Alternatives:
- Dividing the Restaurant into two separate Areas with different Specialties.
- Hiring an Expert Chef to improve your less popular Dishes.
- Focus on your best Dishes.
Selection - Simplex Process example
Finally, you decide that the best option you have is to Focus on your Best Dishes.
This Idea is:
- The most Cost effective.
- The Easiest to Implement.
- Based on Real Results; Your Clients actually love your Ribs and Burgers.
This way, you’ll be even more Focused on your Specialties and they will be even better.
You will Offer:
- Different types of Ribs.
- Different Sauces.
- Burgers with different meats.
Your Diversity will be Focused on your Best Dishes.
- And if some of those Options are not good, you’ll try new ones.
- Using the Simplex Process.
Planning - Simplex Process example
Then, you Plan what must be done:
- Decide what Dishes will be offered.
- Modify the Menu.
- Create a Marketing Campaign to let People Know that the Restaurant has updated its Offering.
- Modify the Interior of the Restaurant (decoration)
Sell Idea - Simplex Process example
Your Partner has to Agree in this Decision.
But, as this Idea involves practically no investment, your Partner agrees immediately.
Perhaps, in the future, if your Idea is Successful, you’ll need to Expand the Kitchen or add a Larger Barbecue.
You decide to communicate these changes to the Chefs and the Staff to hear their opinion.
- They agree immediately as this makes things much easier for them.
- The Old Menu was very Confusing for them.
Action - Simplex Process example
Finally, you Start Implementing the Idea.
In 2 weeks you have the Final menu and the Marketing Campaign working.
At the End of each Month, you’ll check your Progress in case you have to Repeat the Simplex Process Again.
- Adding a New Item.
- Improving the Quality of your Menu.
- Updating the Prices.
- Offering New Promotions.
Your main Metrics will be:
- The amount of Clients you have (of course).
- The Reviews on the Internet.
- The Dishes they order.