The Solution Step

Kim Smiley


Cause Mapping

Have you heard the expression “Throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will stick”?  Unfortunately, we have seen that approach taken with the Solutions step of Cause Mapping. 

The Cause Mapping approach includes 3 steps: 

Step 1 – Problem Definition, Step 2 – Analysis, and Step 3 – Solutions.  Once a thorough analysis of the problem has been performed, the first part of the Solutions step is the brainstorming portion.  This is the “There is no stupid idea part…” where all ideas are thrown out there so that the creative juices can flow and there is a possibility of coming up with that one-in-a-million idea. 

But brainstorming is only part 1 of the Solutions Step. Unfortunately, we do see some Cause Maps where ALL the initial ideas from brainstorming are transferred to the action items tracking sheet and assigned owners and due dates. This results in a severe overload of action items for organizations, as well as a backlash on the process itself.  Who wants to do a detailed analysis if the result is going to be an infinite number of action items, not all of which seem particularly effective? 

Part 2 of the Solutions step is to take the first list of ideas and determine which of the solutions are the best. Which solutions or combination of solutions will provide the appropriate level of risk mitigation at the least resource level? The solutions that we want assigned and tracked are the ones that the team agrees will have the most impact on the organization. If the team cannot determine what the appropriate level of risk is (or the appropriate level of resource is for that matter), this may be an opportunity to present management with the details for each solution and have them provide feedback on the recommendations from the investigation team. Don’t throw it all against the wall! A back-log of action items does little to reduce risk for the organization.

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