Creative solutions to problems within business have become increasingly important as the world of business becomes more complex and the opportunity to think outside the box has increased. Technology has allowed for a whole different perspective to be take on business solutions and there is a lot to be said for innovating as you try to boost your company towards success. That said, there is also certainly something to be said for returning to basics in problem solving for business. One such ‘basic’ approach to business solutions is taking the ‘cause and effect’ root. Cause and effect as an expression is something that has been around for a very long time and as a business principle it’s so well founded that it is, to some extent, simply a given part of the process. But when used deliberately, it can help you come to conclusions about the inner workings of your company and to find and address the problems you may have. So let’s look at how to do that.
What Does Cause And Effect Analysis Involve?
Cause and effect analysis normally relies on a cause and effect diagram. “A cause and effect diagram is a way of visualizing your company, a business framework that can help you spot and handle issues that need to be solved for progress to be made”, explains Mikel Cortez, analytics expert at Writinity and LastMinuteWriting. The origins of the model itself, not the general principle, are in the 1960s when organizational theorist Kaoru Ishikawa identified the efficiency of the system.
The Visual Layout
To create the cause and effect diagram you draw a box within which you write down a perceived problem at your company. From that box you draw lines that identify contributing issues. There may be one, there may be several, but the aim is to try and identify all of the possible ways in which the problem has been caused and link them visually to the problem itself. The shape you end up having is a box (your problem) with a line extending vertically across the page, something which is sometimes referred to as the spine of your cause and effect diagram. From the spine you will draw out multiple lines on either side that represent the different fields which might contribute to the problem. If your problem is Customer Reviews then you might have a ‘bone’ for Customer Relations Personnel, or one for Product Quality, or Buyer’s Expectations.
Now, once your fish-like structure is in place, you start to identify causes that are contributing to the problem and list them along each of the ‘bones’. This is a hard step that can require some real introspection and self-awareness. If we were working on the Buyer’s Expectation section, for example, we might say: Marketing gives false representation of product.
You continue this process for each of the cellular problems that all connect to the major central issue into as much depth as you can. “The great advantage of this way of visualizing problem solving is that you get a complete picture of every possible issue relating to the central problem. So often people misidentify causation as correlation, an issue which can be addressed with ease here”, says Zoe Kim, business journalist at DraftBeyond and ResearchPapersUK. You can progress methodically, striking off each problem that seems tangential in any way. Once you are down to your strongest candidates for cause of problem you can test your hypotheses by doing experiments and investigations in those specific areas.
This is the final step and is the culmination of all of your hard work. You should be able to act with great confidence at this stage having so firmly eliminated other possible problems along the way. You need to implement the change necessary at all levels to ensure that your problem goes away.
And there you have it. It’s simplistic, but very thorough and very effective. In carrying out a full cause and effect analysis you’re also likely to discover some other things about your company along the way and your overall familiarity should certainly be elevated to greater heights.
Authored by Guest Contributor Ashley Halsey
Ashley Halsey is a professional business writer, working at LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, writing on all sorts of topics relating to marketing strategy and technology for business. She spends most of her spare time travelling with her family and gathering information for her latest piece of writing.