Does 8D Have Applications Outside of Auto Manufacturing?
When Ford developed the Eight Disciplines – or 8D for short – method to address issues within their organization, they actually created something much greater. They didn’t just resolve their own problems, but they gave the world a tool that has proven very useful in getting rid of problems of all sorts, drilling down to the root cause in a systematic manner.
A common misconception is that the 8D method is primarily suited for auto manufacturing and related industries. While that’s the environment it originated in, the system is flexible enough to be applied in various other contexts with relative ease. What’s ultimately needed is an experienced hand, guiding the process and applying each step correctly. Understanding the eight steps is not that difficult in general, and it can be a useful bit of knowledge for anyone in a leadership position, or responsible for solving a problem.
- D1 Plan – everything related to lean processes starts with proper planning. The 8D method is no exception, and it’s important to develop a good understanding of the bigger picture before you take any action at all. It’s not much use implementing strategies and attempting to put them to action without a solid plan to work on. Gathering information and data, and conducting interviews is typically done at this time.
- D2 Use a team – the people implementing the solution to any given problem must be specifically chosen to have experience in that area, and to have a fundamental understanding of the process involved. These should be experts involved with the problem, not people who are simply available.
- D3 Develop interim containment plan – it’s critical to develop actions that can isolate the problem to a sufficient degree, allowing the team to focus solely on implementing a solution to it. This stops the “bleeding” of the problem to the customer. Depending on how much the problem affects other areas of operation in the organization, this may prove to be a very difficult step. Sufficient attention has to be paid to it, especially if the problem has the potential to have long-term implications.
- D4 Determine and verify root causes and escape points – the next step should be to get to the root cause of the problem. This is a separate area in itself and can get complicated quite fast, but it’s important in ensuring the long-term validity of the solution developed. If you’re not confident that you’re addressing the true root cause, the problem may end up resurfacing in a different form some time later.
- D5 Verify permanent corrections (PCs) for problem will resolve problem for the customer – even if the solution was planned and implemented correctly, there’s no guarantee that it will actually lead to a resolution for the customer. Proper analysis and testing will ensure that the solution is the correct one, and as long as the organization’s model is understood correctly, it should be perfectly possible to predict the outcome of every part of the solution.
- D6 Define and implement corrective actions – after everything has been analyzed and tested properly, the actual implementation of corrective actions can begin. As long as the planning was done to a satisfying degree, this should be a straightforward process that doesn’t require any special additional input.
- D7 Prevent recurrence/system problems – depending on how the problem occurred in the first place, it can sometimes be very challenging to ensure that it never resurfaces. This is the final challenging step in the process, and one that requires no less attention than the ones before it. If you don’t want to end up having to repeat the whole exercise from the start, it’s very important that you use the knowledge gained during the root cause analysis and take appropriate corrective measures with it.
- D8 Congratulate your team – this might sound like it doesn’t need a separate step of its own, but the failure to recognize this is a common problem for many unsuccessful leaders. It’s important that everyone on your team is shown clearly that their contributions matter and are valued by everyone, especially the higher-ups in the company.
As you can see, there’s nothing really specific to the 8D method that limits its use to the automotive industry. It’s a universal process that can be easily applied to other industries, and even organizations in the service or nonprofit worlds. All it takes is a clear understanding of the organization’s underlying processes, and the requirements that each of those processes is trying to satisfy. The rest comes down to gathering the right data and integrating it into your solution appropriately.