Who do you blame when you encounter a product defect? As a consumer, you likely address the defect with the manufacturer’s customer service team. As a manufacturer, you confront the supplier of the faulty component or material, or the internal team who created the initial specs and produced the product – maybe both.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Samsung apologized for the Note7’s battery defects, assuring owners the replacement Note7 units were safe following a formal recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that made headlines. The seemingly spontaneous combustion of the smartphone has been linked to the lithium-ion battery overheating. Without getting too technical, the battery was flawed through a production error. For more information on the flaw, check out this article.

It’s probably safe to assume once Samsung identified the flawed component they addressed the issue with their own production and engineering teams and/or their lithium-ion supplier. It’s also very likely that Samsung and its suppliers utilize systemic problem analysis to identify problems and develop solutions. The process can also be used to proactively plan for (and hopefully avert) future issues.

The Systemic Approach to Problem Solving

Like Samsung, many organizations face challenges (big and small). The systemic approach to problem solving, or systemic problem analysis, provides a framework for problem identification and solution creation. The approach is basic and at its core comprises of four words:

  • Identify the cause of the problem and design solutions, not cover-ups.
  • Implement the solution.
  • Review results to ensure problem resolution and measure benefits.
  • Incorporate the changes into standard work/production.

While the four steps are an effective way to problem solve, they don’t work all on their own. By engaging employees as well as suppliers throughout the process, organizations maximize the impact of each step. In addition, documentation of the process and feedback throughout the four steps can strengthen employee engagement and customer-supplier relationships.

Many organizations spend a lot of money on their suppliers and, at the same time, don’t take the time to define, activate and analyze the supplier management processes. This “gap” often goes ignored or even unrealized until there’s a problem – and by then the relationship is often so strained it’s beyond saving.

getSayDo works with organizations to define this supplier relationship gap, explain why it exists and outline a simple approach to avoid damaging key supplier partners.

To learn how we do it, download our free whitepaper