How to work with ANALYZE
Problem Solving Process
Materials problem solving is a tried and true process which ANALYZE chemists have developed over the years to help clients resolve industrial problems involving organic materials. While based on the scientific method, this process is executed with a dash of art and a hearty helping of common sense.
As diagnosis precedes treatment, we talk to all stakeholders and try to be a good listener. We ask simple questions and request straightforward answers.
The definition of the problem is often the most critical factor in determining the approach to be taken to characterize the issue and how rapidly appropriate corrective action can be implemented.
As used here, a hypothesis is a tentative explanation that accounts for a set of facts which can be tested by further investigation. Sometimes, there are multiple explanations early in a project which must be examined.
Based on the requirements of the hypotheses to be tested, ANALYZE designs and implements an experimental approach that may involve a mix of chemical analyses, mechanical property measurements and performance testing.
Communication and Feedback
Clear, accurate and timely communications between the client’s team members and ANALYZE are required at each phase of the problem solving approach. Ask simple questions, request straightforward answers.
Reiteration if Necessary
The results of objective tests are very helpful in determining the course of action. In some instances, previously held explanations are discarded and additional experimental work must be done to verify the basic ‘facts’ or test alternative hypotheses.
ANALYZE works with the client to formulate and rank order possible actions to be taken, supports, follows-up on client’s actions items and accurately documents work such that the problem will be not be repeated.
The goal of all problem solving activities is a successful client-partner!
- Executive Summary
- Analytical Methodology
- Raw Data
- Relevance to the Problem
An inquisitive nature is a key trait to gathering information necessary to create a hypothesis. An ANALYZE technical staff member will ask questions designed to help define the problem during an initial information gathering phase.
- Ask Questions – Information Gathering
- Diagnosis precedes treatment
- Be a good listener
- Talk to all the stakeholders
- Clarify Communications
- No mutual mystification
- Ask simple questions, request straightforward answers
- Recognize that people have different perspectives
- Separate Facts from Fiction
A listing of “Facts” generated by this discovery process might include information obtained by asking typical questions under each of the following headings:
- Product Description
- What is the product?
- What are the physical appearance, color and dimensions?
- What materials are used in its construction?
- If known, are specific material grades and lot numbers available
- What is different about the problem part?
- Manufacturing Process
- If the problem occurred during processing, describe steps before, during and after the point at which the client suspects the problem occurred.
- Does the problem affect all production or is it limited to one product type or one process line?
- Field Use Conditions
- If the problem occurred while the product was being used, describe the conditions under which the problem occurred.
- Was the product designed to be used under the conditions described?
- How long has the part or product been in production?
- Has the problem occurred previously?
- Is the problem intermittent or is it happening all of the time?
- Client Concerns
- What is most important issue regarding this problem?
- What is the time line required to implement the corrective action?
- What is the daily cost of having this problem?
There are many different paths that the questioning may take depending upon the answer to the first or any preceding question. The process is to ask a question, listen to the answer, consider the information received and ask another question until all of the questions and answers have been exhausted.
At some point, we ask ourselves whether we have sufficient data to clearly define the problem. If the answer is ‘no’, then we ask more questions and/or design analytical methodology to achieve the desired information. If yes, then proceed to the next step.
The testing of hypotheses involve the following steps:
- Design of Analytical Plan
- Implementation of Plan
- Interpretation of Data
- Integrate Results Into Context of What We Know
- Determine Relevance to Solution of the Problem
- Verify, Eliminate or Modify Hypothesis
Recognize that a “No” can be a valuable answer.