August 1, 2022
By Darren Dolcemascolo
One popular approach to problem
solving and root cause analysis is 8D.
The 8D process has gained popularity
over time because it is one that is
often requested of suppliers when a
failure occurs (or recurs often).
8D Problem Solving is a team based
approach to identifying and eliminating
the root cause of a recurring problem.
While the A3 approach can be used for
making an improvement from current to
target condition or for returning to a
standard condition, the 8D approach is
primarily used for returning to a
standard condition. What is the 8D
problem solving approach? Let's
examine each Discipline- that's what the
"D" stands for in 8D.
Form a team. Complex problems are
best solved by working in teams.
While one person can solve problems, it
is much more likely that a leveraging a
team will result in a better result that
has buy-in. In this step, team
members and their roles are selected.
Roles might include subject matter
experts, facilitator/team leader,
outside eyes, customer representative,
supplier representitive, etc.
Define the problem. We have
written much about problem solving and
define a problem.
We might think of a problem as the
gap between the current condition and a
target condition or a standard.
In 8D problem solving, we are usually
talking about the gap between a current
condition and a standard.
order to properly define a problem for
8D Root Cause Analysis, we need to
gather as much information as we can
about the problem through observation
and data collection. Asking and
answering questions is helpful:
- Who? Who observed the problem?
Who is affected by the problem?
- What? What type of problem is
it? What has the problem? What is
- When? When was the problem
first discovered? When has it been
- Where? Where was the problem
discovered? Where does the problem
- Why? Why is it a
problem? (NOTE: We do not ask why
it happens to discover the cause at
this point- that happens later in
the problem solving process)
- How Much / How Many? How much
is the problem costing us in time,
dollars, etc.? How many times has
- How Often? How often does the
problem occur? Is there a trend?
Can we quantify this?
Interim Containment Actions.
What actions can we take to prevent the
problem from escaping to the customer?
Note that this is not solving the
problem or addressing the root cause.
These are temporary fixes that we put in
place until we solve the problem to its
root cause. All too often I find
that clients have added layers of
checking/inspection to their processes
as a means to prevent escapes.
These layers of inspection remain for
many years in most cases. Instead,
these should be very temporary.
Determine the root
tools such as the 5 Why's approach, we
need to determine the true cause to our
problem. The 5 Why's approach
involves asking and answering the
question "why?" repeatedly until we find
the root cause. This sounds
simple, but it requires actually going
to the gemba and seeing what is
happening in order to properly answer
the "Why" question. Whenever we
ask "why?" we want to answer with the
immediate cause. To learn more
about the 5 Why approach, view our OpEx
Minute video "How
to Use the 5 Why's." To
learn more about tools for gap analysis
such as the Fishbone Diagram and Pareto
Analysis, read our article on
Identify Permanent Corrective Actions /
Countermeasures. This is where we
address the root cause. We
recommend developing several alternative
solutions through brainstorming within
the team, and then using
experimentation/pilot testing and tools
such as criteria matrices to select the
best possible solution. To read
more about tools for determining
corrective actions, read our article on
countermeasures to address root causes.
Validate/Test Permanent Corrective
Actions / Countermeasures. As we
implement our permanent corrective
action(s), we test. We want to
ensure that what we have put into place
actually eliminated the root cause.
After confirming this, we are almost
We put in place long term measures for
preventing this problem from recurring.
How do we ensure that our corrective
actions are going to continue to work?
Will we monitor and audit the process?
What kind of training and documentation
will we put in place going forward?
Can/should our corrective actions be
utilized in other similar
Congratulate the Team / Celebrate.
We should always remember to celebrate
successes. If a team has properly
gone through the 8D process and truly
solved a problem to its root cause, it
is time to celebrate.