Advertising
Advertising

7 Incredible Techniques to Easily Solve the Root of Any Problem

7 Incredible Techniques to Easily Solve the Root of Any Problem

Do you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over? Have some of your poor choices morphed into bad habits? All of us can probably agree that there are things we’d like to change about our actions or circumstances.

Maybe you keep getting drawn into bad relationships, or you can’t stop binge-eating cupcakes, or you are never on time. Perhaps your car breaks down every week, or you always get into arguments with your in-laws. Regardless of what problem you face, there are many ways to reach a solution.

Our problems tend to stick around when we treat the symptoms rather than eliminate their causes. Our knee-jerk response to whatever troubles us may provide temporary relief, but the problem will continue to manifest itself unless we can identify the root.

Get to the heart of your problem, always.

Reactivity is the enemy of a calm and happy existence. Instead of developing sustainable strategies to address your problems, reactivity forces you to spend your days putting out fires. To solve problems, you will need to be proactive.

Performing causal analysis or root cause analysis can help you identify the root of your problems so that you can eliminate the issue for good.[1] Causal analysis can help you anticipate future problems, eliminate current issues, and develop an action-plan to resolve trouble.[2]

When you perform root cause analysis, you can differentiate between correlation and causation. We most often think of using this type of analysis to understand current or past problems, but hypothetical causal analysis enables you to predict outcomes before you commit to an action.[3]

Advertising

Seven tried-and-true techniques for solving any problem

Employing one of these causal analysis techniques can help you find a sustainable solution.

1. 5 Whys Analysis

One of the simplest causal analysis methods involves asking yourself “why” five times.[4] You start by identifying the problem. “My house is always disorganized.” Then, you ask yourself why that is the case. You create a chain of inquiry that offers insight about the core of the problem. Find out how to do a good 5 Whys analysis here.

2. Pareto Analysis

This is sometimes referred to as the “80/20 Rule.” The idea here is that 20% of your actions cause 80% of the results.[5]

Usually, when you are having a problem, there are a few major contributors, referred to as the “vital few.” Then there are the “trivial many,” smaller problems which can deepen the effects of a poor habit or problematic mindset.

Many people go after one of the “trivial many” instead of focusing on the “vital few” causes that are creating the most trouble.

Advertising

    As you can see from the diagram, the x-axis contains contributing factors for tardiness. The left y-axis represents the number of instances in which the lateness occurs. The right y-axis shows you how the number of instances stacks up against the percentage of the total problem. The orange line is the cumulative percentage of the problems that contribute to lateness overall. As you can see, traffic, child care, and public transportation were the major contributors to tardiness. If you wanted to improve your punctuality, you should focus on traffic, child care, and public transportation issues because they are the most common causes for lateness.

    While this method appears complicated, there are many software templates available to you to facilitate this type of visualization.

    3. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

    This multi-step causal analysis can illustrate the root of your problem, but it is also an effective way to anticipate difficulties when you are trying something new.[6]

    1. Begin by ascertaining the problem (real or anticipated).
    2. Then, name all the things that are contributing to the failure.
    3. Ask yourself how often the failure is occurring.
    4. List the actions you have taken to ensure that the failure does not recur.
    5. Analyze whether those solutions worked for you.

    You can revisit this line of inquiry at any time, but it is especially valuable after you restructure a procedure or policy.

    4. Fault Tree Analysis

    This visual model for ascertaining the root of problems is best employed where matters of safety are concerned. While Boolean algebra can make this model more robust, at its most basic level, you begin this analysis by naming the problem. Below the problem, you create boxes which contain factors contributing to the undesired outcome. Unlike other models, which encourage you to think about broad potential contributors, fault tree analysis requires that you look at what is known and deduce meaning from that.[7]

    5. Current Reality Tree (CRT)

    When you are dealing with a number of problems at the same time, the CRT can be an effective way to understand what the problems are and what connections exist between them.

    Advertising

    For example, you may have noticed that your boss is mad at you all the time, you are late on a frequent basis, and you are often too fatigued to work.

    1. Place each of these undesirable effects, your angry boss, tardiness, and fatigue, into their own box at the bottom of your tree.
    2. Brainstorm the possible causes for each of these problems independently, and place each cause in its own box as a “branch” sprouting from the tree.
    3. Take time to analyze each of the problems that you listed in connection to one another as “If…then” statements. “If my boss is angry with me, then is it related to my frequent tardiness.”
    4. Connect ideas in your CRT with arrows.

    Eventually you will notice common threads between the undesirable effects.[8]

    6. RPR (Rapid Problem Resolution) Diagnosis

    This type of causal analysis involves three main steps.

    1. In the discovery phase, you collect information to ascertain problems.
    2. During the investigation phase, you create a plan based off the data that you have collected.
    3. Finally, you set your plan in motion.

    If you choose to use this type of causal analysis, you should periodically check in to ensure that you properly identified the problem and your solution is working as intended.[9]

    7. Cause-and-Effect Diagram or “Fishbone” Diagram

    This means of visualizing a problem is useful whether you are working on your own or with a team.[10]

    As with other models, you start by identifying your problem. One horizontal line, cuts through the center of your diagram like the spine of a fish, hence the name. Several diagonal lines radiate from the spine.

    Advertising

    At the top of each of these lines, write the type of cause that contributes to the problem. For example, if your problem is that you are frequently unhappy, categories of causes that contribute to your problem could be family, work, and health. Ask yourself why each of these categories feeds into your problem. These are the causes for your symptoms. A symptom of your unhappiness rooted in your family might be that you feel disconnected from your partner. Brainstorm as many causes in the categories as you can.

    After you finish your diagram, you will have a better sense of where your problem originates. You may notice that some categories have more causes that contribute to the undesired symptom than others. You can also think about how these categories are connected. Rather than trying to chop the head off the hydra, you can develop of systematic plan that deals with the issue at its core.

      Which method should you try?

      There are a plethora of causal analysis options with varying levels of complexity. If you have lots of data about your problem, Pareto analysis and fault-tree analysis, are great options. All the models are fairly flexible to accommodate a wide range of problems, though some were developed specifically for business or IT. The common thread in all of these methods is that they require self-reflection and a chain of inquiry.

      Next time you feel like you are spending more time putting out fires than living your life, give one or more of these causal analyses a try. You’d be amazed at how effective your problem-solving will be when you can get to the heart of the issue.

      Reference

      [1] Bright Hub Project Management: Overviews of different root cause analysis methods
      [2] Quality Assurance: Causal Analysis Guidelines
      [3] LinkedIn: Causal Analysis
      [4] iSixSigma: Determine the Root Cause: 5 Whys
      [5] Project Smart: Pareto Analysis Step by Step
      [6] ASQ: Failure Mode Effects Analysis
      [7] Clifton Ericson: Fault Tree Analysis
      [8] CIRAS: Building a Current Reality Tree
      [9] MBA Brief: Rapid Problem Resolution
      [10] ASQ: Fishbone (Ishikawa) Diagram

      More by this author

      Angelina Phebus

      Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

      Pick Your Job Based On What You Love To Do, Not How Much You Have Invested In. Foods That Can Suppress Appetite And Help With Weight Loss Quality or Quantity? Why Don’t You Sleep On It What it Feels Like To Be The Child of Your Children? How to Become Successful 10 Times Easier: Don’t Focus on Improving Your Faults

      Trending in Productivity

      1 Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More 2 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Feel Worthless 3 How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week 4 5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block 5 How to Use the 5 Whys to Get to the Root Cause of Any Problem

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on September 18, 2020

      How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

      How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

      Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

      Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

      Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

      How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

      Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

      Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

      What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

      1. Create an Exciting Vision

      If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

      You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

      What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

      Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

      Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

        Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

        Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

        Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

        2. Build a Strategic Plan

        Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

        Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

        You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

        Advertising

        The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

        The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

        These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

        3. Get on Goal Planning

        Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

        Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

        Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

        This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

        Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

        These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

        Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

        Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

        4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

        You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

        But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

        Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

        You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

        One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

        Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

        Advertising

        Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

        It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

        5. Completely Commit to Your Success

        If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

        Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

        Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

        Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

        How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

        When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

        And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

        6. Focus on Your Strengths

        To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

        What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

        Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

        If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

        Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

        Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

        7. Embrace the Present

        Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

        Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

        Advertising

        We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

        Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

        8. Calm the Whirlwind

        The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

        Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

        There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

        Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

        Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

        Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

        Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

        In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

        Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

        Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

        9. Take More Time off

        This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

        If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

        You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

        The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

        Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

        Advertising

        Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

        Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

        Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

        10. Celebrate Wins

        Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

        You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

        Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

        If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

        Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

        11. Give Yourself More Space

        When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

        Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

        Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

        If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

        In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

        A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

        Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

        Final Thoughts

        Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

        This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

        The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

        More on How to Be Self-Assured

        Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next