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How to Think Through Problems Efficiently

Uncategorized / March 28, 2017

During our careers in maintenance, we tend to encounter problems. There are days, however, when the norm never happens, and we are forced to dig deep into our troubleshooting toolbox. The trick now becomes, how do we go about fixing this unique problem? What fault tree, if any, do we follow, and where should we start?

These questions need a systematic approach — one which is formulated from experience and guided by the information provided by engineers. The most important aspect is making sure the right people can contribute to the team to fix the issue. To start, assemble the group of people that are best suited for the task; it’s not about the number of people but the quality and impact they will have. Find people that complement your skills, if you’re weak in one area, get someone who isn’t. Finally, add one very knowledgeable but outside person to add that outside insight.

Next, as a team, gather all of the information about the issue at hand — all data to the accompanying diagrams or operational data of the failed area. Having the most valuable information on hand, coupled with a productive plan, will significantly increase the success of fixing the issue. The old ad doge, “Work smarter, Not harder,” plays a significant role. It is not efficient to jump to a conclusion without testing it. No matter how run of the mill, it might seem, as this can lead to rework and other issues that compound on to themselves.

In summation, get a plan before any work starts. Take your time and gather everything possible to solve the issue effectively. Communicate to upper management your plan of action. The emphasis that band-aid fixes for something that needs a tourniquet will rarely work out in the long run. Use the right people and disregard only using everyone available. Utilized proper teamwork to efficiently put the plan into motion. When progress plateaus, it is time to stop, go back over the initial idea and make necessary changes, do not merely continue.

Be Clear, Be Concise, Be willing to make adjustments when needed.

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