As a product development house, we use a number of tools to help maximise your return on investment in your product and us. For us a product can be many things; objects, experiences, processes and interactions to name a few. Our success lies in our ability to deliver one or more benefits, each of which can be clearly perceived and expressed. To be able to do this consistently requires us to be proficient in the usage of a number of tools and mechanism that help drive the project forward. Today we focus on our slightly modified version of the Design Council’s Double Diamond method. We call it the Four-E method.

More often than not, a problem statement that we receive may not be the root cause, but instead ends up as one of the downstream consequences of the actual problem. The way we get to the root cause is shown in the image below.

Initial Problem Statement to Root Cause

On a simple XY graph, we plot time on the horizontal (X) axis and the number of potential sources of problem on the vertical (Y) axis. Time is an important factor because it takes a certain duration to ask relevant questions, speak to pertinent people, brainstorm ideas and list down all potential sources of problem. Having the time factor also helps with meeting delivering within a stipulated duration.

We start with the initial problem statement, shown by the blue dot, and once all sources have been established, we reach the peak, as shown by the purple dot. We call this the ‘Establish’ phase. At this point we start eliminating those sources that do not fully account for the particular problem, and eventually narrow it down to a root cause, as shown by the orange dot. The objective here is to define the root cause in clear and specific terms. The more specific it is, the better. We call this the ‘Eliminate’ phase.

Now begins the task of addressing this root cause. This is shown in the image below.

Root Cause Definition to Solution Delivery

Once the root cause has been identified as shown by the same orange dot as the last image, this forms the starting point for considering various solutions that will aim to address and solve for this root cause.

This begins what we call the ‘Evaluate’ phase, where we start considering a number of potential solutions that could address and solve for this root cause. We reach the peak shown by the red dot, where all potential solutions have been considered. Then we start the ‘Execute’ phase where we look at the most appropriate solution that will present maximum value in terms of effectiveness, consistency and efficiency to solve for the root cause and deliver this solution.

So, this was a quick introduction to our Four-E method. There are a number of other tools and techniques we use, most of which are industry standard, about which we will tell you more in the coming weeks.

Happy reading!

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