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What is 8D? A template for efficient problem-solving

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How you respond when problems arise is one of the most defining qualities of a manager. Luckily, there are tools you can use to master problem-solving. The 8D method of problem-solving combines teamwork and basic statistics to help you reach a logical solution and prevent new issues from arising.

You’ve spent months overseeing the development of your company's newest project. From initiation, planning, and execution, you’re confident this may be your best work yet.

Until the feedback starts rolling in.

There’s no sugar-coating it—things don’t always go as planned. But production or process issues are hardly a signal to throw in the towel. Instead, focus on honing your problem-solving skills to find a solution that keeps it from happening again. 

The 8D method of problem solving emphasizes the importance of teamwork to not only solve your process woes but prevent new ones from occurring. In this guide, we’ll break down what 8D is, how to use this methodology, and the benefits it can give to you and your team. Plus, get an 8D template to make solving your issue easier. 

What is 8D?

The eight disciplines (8D) method is a problem-solving approach that identifies, corrects, and eliminates recurring problems. By determining the root causes of a problem, managers can use this method to establish a permanent corrective action and prevent recurring issues. 

How do you use the 8D method?

The 8D method is a proven strategy for avoiding long-term damage from recurring problems. If you’re noticing issues in your workflow or processes, then it’s a good time to give this problem-solving method a try. 

To complete an 8D analysis, follow “the eight disciplines” to construct a statistical analysis of the problem and determine the best solution.

The eight disciplines of problem-solving

8D stands for the eight disciplines you will use to establish an 8D report. As you may notice, this outline starts with zero, which makes nine total disciplines. The “zero stage” was developed later as an initial planning stage. 

To illustrate these steps, imagine your organization experienced a decline in team innovation and productivity this past year. Your stakeholders have noticed and want to see changes implemented within the next six months. Below, we’ll use the 8D process to uncover a morale-boosting solution.

[inline illustration] D8 problem solving approach (infographic)

D0: Prepare and plan

Before starting the problem-solving process, evaluate the problem you want to solve. Understanding the background of the problem will help you identify the root cause in later steps. 

Collect information about how the problem has affected a process or product and what the most severe consequences may be. Planning can include:

Gathering data

Determining the prerequisites for solving the problem

Collecting feedback from others involved

[inline illustration] D0 Planning (example)

If we look back at our example, you may want to figure out whether this decline in morale is organization-wide or only applies to a few departments. Consider interviewing a few employees from different departments and levels of management to gain some perspective. Next, determine what knowledge and skills you will need to solve this lapse in productivity. 

D1: Form your team

Create a cross-functional team made up of people who have knowledge of the various products and workflows involved. These team members should have the skills needed to solve the problem and put corrective actions in place. 

Steps in this discipline may include:

Appointing a team leader

Developing and implementing team guidelines

Determining team goals and priorities

Assigning individual roles

Arranging team-building activities

[inline illustration] D1 Team members (example)

From our example, a solid team would consist of people with first-hand experience with the issues—like representatives from all departments and key people close to workshop-level work. You may also want to pull someone in from your HR department to help design and implement a solution. Most importantly, make sure the people you choose want to be involved and contribute to the solution.

D2: Identify the problem

You may have a good understanding of your problem by now, but this phase aims to break it down into clear and quantifiable terms by identifying the five W’s a and two H’s (5W2H):

Who first reported the problem?

What is the problem about?

When did it occur and how often?

Where did it occur (relating to the sector, supplier, machine, or production line involved)?

Why is solving the problem important?

How was the problem first detected?

How many parts/units/customers are affected?

[inline illustration] D2 Problem statement & description (example)

Use your team’s insights to answer these questions. From our example, your team may conclude that: 

Employees feel overwhelmed with their current workload. 

There is no real structure or opportunity to share new ideas.

Managers have had no training for meetings or innovation settings.

Disgruntled employees know they can achieve more—and want to achieve more—even if they seem disengaged.

Once you answer these questions, record an official problem statement to describe the issue. If possible, include photos, videos, and diagrams to ensure all parties have a clear understanding of the problem. It may also help to create a flowchart of the process that includes various steps related to the problem description.

D3: Develop an interim containment plan

Much like we can expect speedy first aid after an accident, your team should take immediate actions to ensure you contain the problem—especially if the problem is related to customer safety. 

An interim containment plan will provide a temporary solution to isolate the problem from customers and clients while your team works to develop a permanent corrective action. This band-aid will help keep your customers informed and safe—and your reputation intact.

[inline illustration] D3 Interim containment action (example)

Because your findings revealed workers were overworked and managers lacked training, your team suggests scheduling a few mandatory training sessions for leaders of each department covering time and stress management and combating burnout . You may also want to have a presentation outlining the topics of this training to get key managers and stakeholders interested and primed for positive upcoming changes. 

D4: Verify root causes and escape points

Refer back to your findings and consult with your team about how the problem may have occurred. The root cause analysis involves mapping each potential root cause against the problem statement and its related test data. Make sure to test all potential causes—fuzzy brainstorming and sloppy analyses may cause you to overlook vital information. 

[inline illustration] D4 Root cause & escape points (example)

In our example, focus on the “why” portion of the 5W2H. You and your team identify six root causes:

Managers have never had any training

There is a lack of trust and psychological safety

Employees don’t understand the objectives and goals

Communication is poor

Time management is poor

Employees lack confidence

In addition to identifying the root causes, try to pinpoint where you first detected the problem in the process, and why it went unnoticed. This is called the escape point, and there may be more than one. 

D5: Choose permanent corrective actions

Work with your team to determine the most likely solution to remove the root cause of the problem and address the issues with the escape points. Quantitatively confirm that the selected permanent corrective action(s) (PCA) will resolve the problem for the customer. 

Steps to choosing a PCA may include:

Determining if you require further expertise

Ensuring the 5W2Hs are defined correctly

Carrying out a decision analysis and risk assessment

Considering alternative measures

Collecting evidence to prove the PCA will be effective

[inline illustration] D5 Permanent corrective action (example)

Your team decides to roll out the training used in the interim plan to all employees, with monthly company-wide workshops on improving well-being. You also plan to implement meetings, innovation sessions, and team-coaching training for managers. Lastly, you suggest adopting software to improve communication and collaboration. 

D6: Implement your corrective actions

Once all parties have agreed on a solution, the next step is to create an action plan to remove the root causes and escape points. Once the solution is in effect, you can remove your interim containment actions.

After seeing success with the training in the interim phase, your stakeholders approve all of your team’s proposed PCAs. Your representative from HR also plans to implement periodic employee wellness checks to track employee morale .

[inline illustration] D6 PCA implementation plan (example)

To ensure your corrective action was a success, monitor the results, customer, or employee feedback over a long period of time and take note of any negative effects. Setting up “controls” like employee wellness checks will help you validate whether your solution is working or more needs to be done. 

D7: Take preventive measures

One of the main benefits of using the 8D method is the improved ability to identify necessary systematic changes to prevent future issues from occurring. Look for ways to improve your management systems, operating methods, and procedures to not only eliminate your current problem, but stop similar problems from developing later on.

[inline illustration] D7 Preventive measure (example)

Based on our example, the training your team suggested is now adopted in the new manager onboarding curriculum. Every manager now has a “meeting system” that all meetings must be guided by, and workloads and projects are managed as a team within your new collaboration software . Innovation is improving, and morale is at an all-time high!

D8: Celebrate with your team

The 8D method of problem-solving is impossible to accomplish without dedicated team members and first-class collaboration. Once notes, lessons, research, and test data are documented and saved, congratulate your teammates on a job well done! Make an effort to recognize each individual for their contribution to uncovering a successful solution.

[inline illustration] 8D Team congratulations & reward (example)

8D report template and example

Check out our 8D report template below to help you record your findings as you navigate through the eight disciplines of problem solving. This is a formal report that can be used as a means of communication within companies, which makes for transparent problem-solving that you can apply to the entire production or process chain.

Benefits of using the 8D method

The 8D method is one of the most popular problem-solving strategies for good reason. Its strength lies in teamwork and fact-based analyses to create a culture of continuous improvement —making it one of the most effective tools for quality managers. The benefits of using the 8D method include: 

Improved team-oriented problem-solving skills rather than relying on an individual to provide a solution

Increased familiarity with a problem-solving structure

A better understanding of how to use basic statistical tools for problem-solving

Open and honest communication in problem-solving discussions

Prevent future problems from occurring by identifying system weaknesses and solutions

Improved effectiveness and efficiency at problem-solving

Better collaboration = better problem solving

No matter how good a manager you are, production and process issues are inevitable. It’s how you solve them that separates the good from the great. The 8D method of problem solving allows you to not only solve the problem at hand but improve team collaboration, improve processes, and prevent future issues from arising. 

Try Asana’s project management tool to break communication barriers and keep your team on track.

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Quality Glossary Definition: Eight disciplines (8D) model

The eight disciplines (8D) model is a problem solving approach typically employed by quality engineers or other professionals, and is most commonly used by the automotive industry but has also been successfully applied in healthcare, retail, finance, government, and manufacturing. The purpose of the 8D methodology is to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems, making it useful in product and process improvement.

The 8D problem solving model establishes a permanent corrective action based on statistical analysis of the problem and focuses on the origin of the problem by determining its root causes. Although it originally comprised eight stages, or disciplines, the eight disciplines system was later augmented by an initial planning stage.

How to Use the 8D Approach

Eight Disciplines (8D)

List of the Eight Disciplines (8D)

You can also search articles , case studies , and publications  for 8D resources.

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A Disciplined Approach ( Quality Progress ) Nothing causes anxiety for a team quite like the release of a corrective action preventive action (CAPA) system and accompanying eight disciplines (8D) model. Follow this step-by-step explanation of 8D to reassure your team and get results.

In the Loop ( Quality Progress ) An 8D report is a quality report suppliers use to inform a customer about the status of complaint-related actions. Use this refresher to help track the status of customer complaints.

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8D Problem Solving Process

Solving major problems in a disciplined way.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

(Also known as Global 8D Problem Solving)

8d problem solving ppt

When your company runs into a major problem, you need to address it quickly. However, you also need to deal with it thoroughly and ensure that it doesn't recur – and this can take a lot of effort and elapsed time.

The 8D Problem Solving Process helps you do both of these seemingly-contradictory things, in a professional and controlled way. In this article, we'll look at the 8D Problem Solving Process, and we'll discuss how you can use it to help your team solve major problems.

Origins of the Tool

The Ford Motor Company® developed the 8D (8 Disciplines) Problem Solving Process, and published it in their 1987 manual, "Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS)." In the mid-90s, Ford added an additional discipline, D0: Plan. The process is now Ford's global standard, and is called Global 8D.

Ford created the 8D Process to help teams deal with quality control and safety issues; develop customized, permanent solutions to problems; and prevent problems from recurring. Although the 8D Process was initially applied in the manufacturing, engineering, and aerospace industries, it's useful and relevant in any industry.

The eight disciplines are shown in figure 1, below:

Figure 1: The 8D Problem Solving Process

8d problem solving ppt

The 8D Process works best in teams tasked with solving a complex problem with identifiable symptoms. However, you can also use this process on an individual level, as well.

Applying the Tool

To use the 8D Process, address each of the disciplines listed below, in order. Take care not to skip steps, even when time is limited; the process is only effective when you follow every step.

Discipline 0: Plan

Before you begin to assemble a team to address the problem, you need to plan your approach. This means thinking about who will be on the team, what your time frame is, and what resources you'll need to address the problem at hand.

Discipline 1: Build the Team

You should aim to put together a team that has the skills needed to solve the problem, and that has the time and energy to commit to the problem solving process.

Keep in mind that a diverse team is more likely to find a creative solution than a team of people with the same outlook (although if outlooks are too diverse, people can spend so much time disagreeing that nothing gets done).

Create a team charter that outlines the team's goal and identifies each person's role. Then, do what you can to build trust and get everyone involved in the process that's about to happen.

If your team is made up of professionals who haven't worked together before, consider beginning with team-building activities to ensure that everyone is comfortable working with one another.

Discipline 2: Describe the Problem

Once your team has settled in, describe the problem in detail. Specify the who, what, when, where, why, how, and how many; and use techniques like CATWOE and the Problem-Definition Process to ensure that you're focusing on the right problem.

Start by doing a Risk Analysis – if the problem is causing serious risks, for example, to people's health or life, then you need to take appropriate action. (This may include stopping people using a product or process until the problem is resolved.)

If the problem is with a process, use a Flow Chart , Swim Lane Diagram , or Storyboard to map each step out; these tools will help your team members understand how the process works, and, later on, think about how they can best fix it.

Discovering the root cause of the problem comes later in the process, so don't spend time on this here. Right now, your goal is to look at what's going wrong and to make sure that your team understands the full extent of the problem.

Discipline 3: Implement a Temporary Fix

Once your team understands the problem, come up with a temporary fix. This is particularly important if the problem is affecting customers, reducing product quality, or slowing down work processes.

Harness the knowledge of everyone on the team. To ensure that each person's ideas are heard, consider using brainstorming techniques such as Round Robin Brainstorming or Crawford's Slip Writing Method , alongside more traditional team problem solving discussions.

Once the group has identified possible temporary fixes, address issues such as cost, implementation time, and relevancy. The short-term solution should be quick, easy to implement, and worth the effort.

Discipline 4: Identify and Eliminate the Root Cause

Once your temporary fix is in place, it's time to discover the root cause of the problem.

Conduct a Cause and Effect Analysis to identify the likely causes of the problem. This tool is useful because it helps you uncover many possible causes, and it can highlight other problems that you might not have been aware of. Next, apply Root Cause Analysis to find the root causes of the problems you've identified.

Once you identify the source of the problem, develop several permanent solutions to it.

If your team members are having trouble coming up with viable permanent solutions, use the Straw Man Concept to generate prototype solutions that you can then discuss, tear apart, and rebuild into stronger solutions.

Discipline 5: Verify the Solution

Once your team agrees on a permanent solution, make sure that you test it thoroughly before you fully implement it, in the next step.

Last, conduct a Blind Spot Analysis to confirm that you and your team haven't overlooked a key factor, or made an incorrect assumption about this solution.

Discipline 6: Implement a Permanent Solution

Once your team reaches a consensus on the solution, roll your fix out. Monitor this new solution closely for an appropriate period of time to make sure that it's working correctly, and ensure that there are no unexpected side effects.

Discipline 7: Prevent the Problem From Recurring

When you're sure that the permanent solution has solved the problem, gather your team together again to identify how you'll prevent the problem from recurring in the future.

You might need to update your organization's standards, policies, procedures, or training manual to reflect the new fix. You'll likely also need to train others on the new process or standard. Finally, you'll need to consider whether to change your management practices or procedures to prevent a recurrence.

Discipline 8: Celebrate Team Success

The last step in the process is to celebrate and reward your team's success . Say "thank you" to everyone involved, and be specific about how each person's hard work has made a difference. If appropriate, plan a party or celebration to communicate your appreciation.

Before the team disbands, conduct a Post-Implementation Review to analyze whether your solution is working as you thought, and to improve the way that you solve problems in the future.

In the late 1980s, Ford Motor Company developed the 8D (8 Disciplines) Problem Solving Process to help manufacturing and engineering teams diagnose, treat, and eliminate quality problems. However, teams in any industry can use this problem solving process.

The eight disciplines are:

The 8D Problem Solving Process is best used with a team solving complex problems; however, individuals can also use it to solve problems on their own.

Ford is a registered trademark of the Ford Motor Company: https://www.ford.com/

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