Solving problems vs. Improving processes

When a customer complains about a product or service, do you solve the problem or improve the process?

Solving problems resolves part of the whole as it fails to take into account the impact on other processes or systems. Improving the process resolves overall outcome.

Based on observations on human nature, we spend 80% of their time on solving problems and only 20% on improving the process. Solving problems provides a sense of accomplishment, immediate gratification, and reward. Most compensation systems are based on problems solved instead of outcomes achieved.

For example – during economic recessions, managers of business units are encouraged to reduce expenses, save money and control budgets – for which incentives are offered. Few of those managers take into account the impact on revenue and profit.

Ways to Improve processes:

  • By design
  • Through prevention
  • Through simplification
  • To produce long-term results


Whatever the strategy, there are 7 Steps to Improving processes:

  1. Understand entire process, not just part thereof. Before making changes to a process, you need to understand the whole process from start to end.
  2. Identify the critical path.
  3. Examine the weaknesses and potential problems.
  4. Prioritize the issues based on their impact on the outcomes.
  5. Communicate the need for change
  6. Implement the changes
  7. Monitor the effect of the change

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