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Operations Q&A: Are You Digging Deep Enough?

Operations Q&A: Are You Digging Deep Enough?

February 19, 2015

Question: Have you dug deep enough to resolve the real issues?

Answer: Here is a question for you: How much of the mass of an iceberg is found below the water’s surface? Take a moment to answer before reading on.

According to the Office of Naval Research, 87.5 percent of an iceberg’s mass is found underneath the water line. While the numbers may vary a bit, the concept can be applied to operational challenges you might be facing. The resolutions may require digging deeper than you might have considered, before arriving at a definition of the problem you are facing.

Bottom Line: I once was called into a project because the distribution client thought they were running out of room and needed to move. That was the premise under which I started my work. It ultimately became apparent that space was not their real issue.

The problem was actually the result of mismanagement of inventory, not space limitations. This company ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in future relocation costs because they were able to wait.

Another time I was engaged to help another distribution client overcome what appeared to be problems with processing of their orders. Digging deeper, it was discovered that much of the problem was connected to a computer software installation where the initial data was entered incorrectly. Garbage in, garbage out. Once we corrected what had been wrongly entered, the daily reportable problems disappeared.

When you are looking to solve a problem, do not be too quick to accept what seems to be the obvious problem. Spend the time necessary to be thorough in your evaluation. Ask questions, even the hard questions. What you are searching for is the cause, not the symptom. Only then can you bring real changes and solutions to the problem.

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