Over the years many tools have been used to "discover" solutions or decide on the best possible tactic to move forward. One of m favorite tools to use is the Cause and Effect Matrix. There are many tools that can help you decide what inputs should be applied to a process but The solution matrix seems to work very well for engaging teams, It in many ways forces teams to engage the "Gemba" and creates interdepartmental teamwork. There are a few crucial steps that need to be captured when using a cause and effect matrix; In hopes that you will better understand the process, here is one example of a basic Cause and effect matrix.
The example shown above is just one basic example you can make them whatever way works best for you though. Typically the C&E matrix is used to help hone in on the best possible Inputs (shown in grey) that will give you the best possible impact. There are 5 basic steps that will make this tool work for you;
1. Identify what is important to the Customer
- As with anything else we want to understand what is important to the Customer. One example may be a customer buying a hamburger; It may be important to them to have the hamburger well done, made correctly and for the hamburger to fill them Up. Those things that are important are known as the "Voice of the Customer." We place those items in the Red section.
Now that we have identified what is important to the Customer we can move on to the second portion of the Cause and effect matrix.
2. Prioritize What is Important to the Customer
This is a good time to ask the Customer, which one of these is most important to you? Try to limit the priority numbers but common sense tells us if there are 10 important things to a customer your scale will be 1-10. Since in out Hamburger case only 3 things are important we will use a scale of 1-3. This is a great time to really understand your customers priorities and more importantly why.
Well now that we know what is Important to the Customer and just how important it is amongst the other suggestions we can begin to load in our Inputs. These are the ideas/variables that transform in the process to create the Outputs.
3. Document and Identify Process/Product Inputs
At this point you may have a Value Stream Map, SIPOC Map, or a process documented one way or another. You can identify some of the inputs in the Map on your Cause and effect Matrix or you may wish to simply visit the Gemba and speak with process owners. Whatever way you choose to get the inputs we will place them in the Grey Section.
Now you can see that after speaking with the process owner we came up with four ideas. This is where the Cause and effect Matrix will become your best friend..... Which one do you do?
4. Rank How effective the Inputs are on the Outputs
Now we are ready to rank how effective the Inputs are on the desired customer Outputs. You can use any scale you want but be sure to make it quantifiable. For our Purposes I will use a scale of 1-5, 1(no impact) 2(minimal Impact) 3(Impact) 4(Good Impact) 5(Perfect Impact).
That brings us to the Final Step.
5. Do the Math and act on the Best Percentage
After doing the Math it looks as though our biggest impact input is to Create a Standard for making the burger. Keep in mind this does not mean that the others are any less important or won't yield some result it just simply means that with minimal resources and a budget in place, Item number 2 would be the first to act on.
As you can tell the Solution matrix is a very efficient way of making opinions quantifiable. If you are interested in how you can create your own solution matrix or want a copy of the one used in this article please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.