TSD Insights

Situational Practical Problem Solving FAQ

Problem Solving, Training

Below are some frequently asked questions about Tom Adair's Situational Practical Problem Solving methodology and training.  Let us know what you think by dropping a comment in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

1. How does SPPS differ from other problem solving methodologies?
There are several ways SPPS sets itself apart from other types of problem solving. With SPPS you are able to
quickly react to a problem, make quick decisions and adapt to the situation encountered. Once learned it can
quickly change mental gears of how to solve a problem and save time. Other methodologies are generally
slow to react, take longer to make a decision, are less flexible and spend more time in solving problems.
SPPS questions everything by challenging the status quo, assumptions, claims and experience as factual. You
spend more time asking questions rather than giving others the answer. This allows and supports
subordinates to solve their own problems. The problem solver does not have to know all the answers just the
questions to ask and SPPS teaches you how to do that. This is different as other methodology questions some
things and accepts people’s claims and experience as fact.
In SPPS you are asked to set aside preconceived notions and experience with the problem by verifying with
facts. You cannot depend on your memory and you are encouraged to go see first -hand the problem. Other
methodologies generally accepts preconceived ideas, memory and experience with the problem without
verifying with facts.
SPPS separates fact from assumptions to more accurately solve problems. It addresses the root cause and not
the symptoms. It is based on verifiable data. Root cause analysis is done at the site of the problem and not in
meeting rooms. Other problem solving methodologies do not always use facts but relies more on experience
and opinions. Often addresses the symptom and misses the real root cause. Usually the other methods try to
solve problems in meeting rooms and not going to the actually site of the problem.
There is little dependency on forms and paperwork. SPPS emphasis is on solving the problem and then fill out
the paperwork (if needed). This is the opposite on other methodologies as usually there is much paperwork
and a laborious use of a problem report format.

2. Is there a specific form to use for SPPS?
No there is not a specific form. The SPPS problem solver is encouraged to put the answers in a form that best
suits them and/or their organization. In the SPPS class we show how to put the answers in a power point
template which is provided. We also show how to insert the information in other types of problems solving
forms such as PDCA, DMAIC, CAPA, 8D, and A3 forms. The beauty of SPPS is that it is completely customizable
to the organization.

3. Are these methods easy for anyone to learn?
Yes these methods are very easy to understand and remember. Tom Adair taught these methods to
elementary school children from grades 1-12 in the Scott County School System in Kentucky where the Toyota
plant is located. The results were amazing. Also Tom is currently teaching SPPS to first year college students at
two different colleges in Huntsville, Alabama. Employees in various organizations find SPPS is appealing and is
a common sense practical form of problem solving which is easy to learn.

4. We are an ISO14001 facility. How will this affect our compliance?
SPPS will enhance the compliance of ISO14001 by addressing the real root cause and not symptoms. This type
of problem solving methodology is very effective. SPPS was initially taught to the US Air Force to permanently
address environmental concerns. The Air Force environmental base inspection team kept having the same
environmental discrepancies reoccur on their yearly base inspections. After implementing SPPS these
discrepancies were finally addressed and never reappeared.

5. We are also an ISO 9001 facility. How will this affect our compliance?
This is similar to the question about ISO14001. After implementing SPPS methodology quality departments
have reported significant results. They have found employees are using critical thinking, questioning
techniques, and operating with validated facts to solve problems which kept reoccurring on a regular basis.
Tom worked with a pharmaceutical manufacturing company to turn around the way their quality department
was addressing problems. After conducting an SPPS pilot team management recommended the entire quality
department take the training. The pharmaceutical manufacturing company saw a remarkable results. The
pharmaceutical industry is under heavy regulation with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA).

6. Everyone in our organization seems to solve problems differently. What does SPPS do to address that?
This is not unusual. SPPS is based on the scientific method with sequential steps to follow. How SPPS
separates itself from other problem solving methodology is through teaching critical thinking and Socratic
questioning. The steps are similar to other methodologies. The SPPS class addresses this issue by showing
similarities and differences with the most popular problem solving methodologies to eliminate confusion. This
better coordinates the different types of problem solving.

7. We want to train people in our organization to do SPPS. What are the ways in which we can do that?
NOTE: Ryan this other question “We are a small organization; do you hold public workshops? We can only
send a couple people” is addressed in the first paragraph below. I don’t know that his question is needed.
Also the question “We need more help than a workshop can provide. Are there other ways Tom can help us
with our problem solving?” This second question is answered in the second paragraph below.
One way is to buy the SPPS book “SOLVED!” and study it. The other way is to have on site classes or to come
to a major city which is having the class. Some professional organizations will sponsor a class and invite its
members to the class. This later method is cost effective as some companies are restricted by their budget
and find sending their employees to a class with participants from similar interests a better choice.
Another way is to invite Tom Adair to come to the organization and work on actual problems with the
individual teams. This is the most effective way to learn problem solving. He recently spent six months
consulting full time with a major power utility company. The company had eight teams working on different
problems. Tom was able to help the teams with just-in-time advice as it was needed. In the downtime Tom
taught SPPS classes to the remainder of the employees. The results were remarkable.

8. How should our people prepare prior to attending an SPPS workshop?
The best suggestion is to read the book prior to the workshop. Another way is to read Tom’s blogs on the TSD
website. The organization will be interviewed by the instructor prior to the workshop to identify any concerns
or questions about the workshop. These concerns and questions will be addressed and sent to the
organization’s sponsor.
January 09, 2019 / /

Tags: Problem Solving, Training

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