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Comparison of Three Analytic Problem-solving techniques

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of defined techniques to use when analyzing and resolving problems. Not every problem-solving technique is useful for every situation; a specific technique may best be used in a team vs. an individual situation, or lend itself more to creative instead of systematic forms of resolution. This article compares three common techniques and provides a framework on the key aspects and best usage of each.

PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Act

PDCA may also sometimes be referred to as the Deming cycle or Deming Wheel. While popularized by Walter Deming, it was originally developed by Walter Shewhart and is also sometimes referred to as the Shewhart Cycle. It encourages a methodical approach to problem solving, and is normally represented by a circle to represent the need for repetition and continuous improvement. It requires a clear definition of the problem or root cause you are trying to analyze (it may be beneficial to use cause and effect or 5 Why analysis for this definition). 


When to use?

PDCA is often used in continuous improvement or Kaizen programs and repetitive work processes, as a key idea is identifying improvements for the creation of a standard, repeatable process. PDCA can be valuable when the consequence of taking wrong actions is significant, and a pilot approach that examines a large range of possibilities often makes sense to incorporate feedback before going to a larger scale. It can help avoid the waste associated with a full-scale implementation that may later have to be revamped or reworked. The four components are:

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