What Is the Joiner 7 Step Method?
The Joiner 7 step method is a technique that can prove very useful in tackling large, complex issues, including in cases where the fundamental problem is not fully understood, and the lack of information can prevent an analytical approach to finding a solution.
The method is based on the idea of breaking down the problem into smaller sub-problems, which can be effectively studied and analyzed, allowing the organization to develop individual solutions for each of those problems, which are then combined to tackle the larger issue.
It’s an effective technique partly because it forces the organization to take a closer look at their fundamental requirements, and this can sometimes uncover problems with the core philosophies that govern their work.
#1 – Define the project strictly
This means that the organization has to define their requirements for the current situation as clearly as possible. Creating good, valid requirements is a separate skill of its own, but it’s important to get it right from the beginning, if you want to make sure that the subsequent analysis of your operations is based on valid assumptions.
If your data is based on the wrong requirements, it won’t help you much in determining what you need to change about the operation of the company to resolve the problem at hand.
This step also includes the development of performance indicators that the organization can use to figure out if things are going in the right direction. The set of indicators that are chosen has to be small enough to prevent the data being polluted with irrelevant facts, while on the other hand, it also has to offer sufficient coverage.
Make sure that requirements are not gathered only internally, but in coordination with the customer as well!
#2 – Current situation
In this step, the organization has to collect data about its own performance, and determine where exactly they stand in the grand scheme of things. It’s critical that the data collected in step 1 makes sense, and targets the appropriate aspects of the company’s work, as this is the only way to ensure that you can define the current situation properly in this step.
A common mistake made at this stage is to try to describe the problems with their assumed root causes. This is wrong, and the whole reason for performing this procedure in the first place is because you likely don’t know the root causes of your current problems. You should therefore try to keep things as factual as possible, such as “Measured output was 5% lower than required”.
#3 – Analyze the root cause
Now that you have the data from steps 1 and 2, you can investigate the actual root cause of the problem at hand more adequately. This is the step where you can safely start developing those theories that are going around in your head, trying to see if any of them match the data at hand. Whatever you believe the root cause may be, the important thing about this step is to verify your theory by matching it to the data you’ve collected, and discarding theories that don’t make complete sense.
There are numerous problem solving tools available to get to the root cause, including failure analysis tools used at NASA
#4 – Develop a solution
By now, you should hopefully have a clear idea of the root cause behind the issue, and you’ll know what direction you need to move in to resolve it. In this step, it’s time for the organization to actually figure out how they want to go about addressing the problem, ideally by developing several solutions, and testing them against each other, to determine which ones work properly.
The important thing to remember here is that you should be as diverse as possible in developing those solutions, and you should do your best to come up with at least several plans of action. You should definitely ask the actual workers who know the product or service better than anyone, and consider asking people outside of the work area. This will generate a bunch of great ideas! You may end up discarding some of them later on, but as long as they’re all based on accurate data gathered in the previous steps, this should not be a problem.
#5 – Study the results
Once you’ve started applying your proposed solutions in practice, it’s time to figure out if they really work or not. At this stage, you will be collecting and analyzing a lot of data to determine how well the different solutions you’ve developed can work for the problem at hand. It’s a good idea to develop a systematic approach for comparing the results to the original plans, even more so if you run this procedure regularly, and want to have some comparison data for the future.
A critical factor required to make this stage work is the presence of valid key performance indicators. Without that, you simply can’t know if you’re analyzing your data on the right points, and you might be working blindly, or falsely assume things are improving when they are not.
#6 – Standardization
Now that you’ve determined exactly what needs to be done to improve the company’s process, and you’re sure that the original problem has been resolved, your next step should be to implement those changes in the organization’s standard practices, and ensure that everyone follows the new rules in the future.
To achieve this, you will rely heavily on the documentation you’ve gathered over the previous steps, and you will compile a distilled version of the process from that data. Using this approach, you should be able to develop a comprehensive training procedure to get all members of the organization up to speed, and ensure that the new process will be followed strictly in the future.
#7 – Future plans
You will likely learn a lot from the implementation of the Joiner 7 step method, and by the end you will probably have some insights into the way your company works unrelated to the specific problem you were working on. The data you’ve collected may point in the direction of another potential problem, and this is a good opportunity to tackle that issue before it’s even manifested itself.
By properly applying the Joiner 7 step method, you can be one step ahead of all issues that can arise in the operation of your organization, and you can ensure that all lessons learned while resolving those issues are properly remembered and utilized.
Have you used this exact approach before? Let us know what you thought below…