Getting a better understanding of the challenge

Gaining a better understanding of a situation, obstacle or problem is something that you will do at various stages of an improvement project; you may need to do this to identify the obstacles that lay between where you are today and your future state, or gain a better understanding of an obstacle that you are working to overcome, or even as part of testing out a solution using PDSA.

Whatever stage you are at, when you are looking to get a better understanding you will be working through a process of information gathering and analysis of that information. You will be using your curious mind-set to ask yourself “what is this information telling me? Is this enough information or do I need to find out more?”

When you believe you have enough information, you can then take action from an informed position, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.

The actual information that you need to take you towards this better understanding will vary from project to project and the situations and stages that you are at. The methods to gathering and analysing this information will also differ and we wouldn’t want to constrain what works for you.

However, we promote some helpful techniques that are relevant to all challenges and can be used at varying levels of analysis. These techniques work well in combination and are:

Click the links to get further information on each of these techniques. You can use PDSA cycles to help with rapidly gathering the information you need:

PLAN – (hypothesis) – if we gather information on ‘x’, using ‘y’ technique, it will allow us to understand the situation / problem better

DO – gather information on ‘x’

STUDY – does information on ‘x’ increase our understanding of the problem?

ACT – if the answer is no, was ‘y’ the correct technique to have used? What do we need to do next to better understand…..?