Effective Problem-Solving Culture – A Detailed Guide

by Adminapollo | February 18, 2016

General Description

The following guidelines are provided to help organizations create an effective problem-solving culture. Please note that this is only a guide. Every organization is different, so before implementing this plan you should determine who the players are and what level of training they need. With our support, we can help you integrate the elements of this guide into your organization. This Plan will be updated as we get your feedback on how to improve it, so please send your comments to us at Contact Us.

Critical Elements

To be effective, everyone in the work force:

  1. Must be exposed to the principles of causation to understand that “stuff” does not just happen.
  2. Should know that we can find effective solutions to event-based problems by using RealityCharting® and RC Simplified™.
  3. Must understand that different perspectives are a key to effective solutions and easily accommodated when you use the Realitycharting process.
  4. Must know their role in defining problems and finding effective solutions to prevent recurrence.
  5. Must know that management is behind this initiative.


The following elements are required to implement this plan:

  1. Top-level management support.
  2. A Program Champion[1].
  3. Dedicated Incident Investigation Facilitators.
  4. Incorporation of the Realitycharting process into existing procedures and protocol.
  5. Involve every employee in this effective problem-solving initiative.
  6. Utilize RealityCharting®, the RC Learning Center™, and RC Simplified™ throughout the organization.

[1] The name of this person may take many forms depending on the existing infrastructure. Examples include; Management Representative, Continuous Improvement Champion, and Problem Solving Champion.

Management Buy-in and Support

  1. Show the Effective Problem-Solving video to top-level managers so they know the principles of effective problem-solving.
    2). Show RealityCharting® Overview Video to all managers so they know what the software does and why it is so effective.
  2. If they want to know more, managers should read the eBook: RealityCharting – Seven Steps to Effective Problem Solving and Personal Success and work the interactive exercises in this book. To download, go to www.realitycharting.com/rcbook We will provide a special code for you to access this for free. This is a pdf eBook that includes over 30 interactive links that help you learn by discovery.
  3. Provide a manager’s workshop as requested on Managing Effective Problem-Solving. Discuss application to Safety, Defect Elimination, Continuous Improvement programs such as Six Sigma, Lean, Proactive Maintenance, Chronic (Systemic) issues.

Create A Program Champion

1. Assignment

  • The designated Program Champion can be developed with our help, or if a company already has an experienced incident investigator they may choose to be the Program Champion.

2. Qualifications:

  • The Program Champion must be an experienced incident investigator and facilitator.
  • The Program Champion must have extensive knowledge of the latest version of RealityCharting® software and completed the training program defined herein.
  • The Program Champion should be an Accredited Facilitator.

3. Training:

  • The Program Champion(s) must be familiar with the RealityCharting® learning tools to include the RC Learning Center™, RC Simplified™, and training videos, all of which can be accessed at http://coach.realitycharting.com/
  • The Program Champion(s) must be a trained investigaator as defined in the Investigator training below.
  • Furthermore, Program Champions should become Accredited Facilitators, which includes taking a test, have extensive experience facilitating and performing an actual investigation in the presence of an Accredited Instructor. This process should include being guided and mentored by the Accredited Instructor.
  • Required Reading: eBook: RealityCharting – Seven Steps to Effective Problem Solving and Personal Success. To download, go to www.realitycharting.com/rcbook. We will provide a code to allow free access.

4. Role of the Program Champion

  • Mentor and be the “go to” person for all things relating to problem-solving.
  • Be able to effectively facilitate incident investigations.
  • Incorporate problem-solving tools and techniques into the organization’s procedures, such that everyone automatically knows what to do in the event of a problem.
  • Present or facilitate the appropriate training to all stakeholders to make sure they know what to do when they see a problem.
  • Create and maintain a set of Threshold Criteria that trigger formal incident investigations.
    • Make sure everyone knows what the criteria are.
    • As fewer and fewer events trigger the criteria, lower the trigger criteria.
  • Assure all problem solutions are tracked to make sure they are implemented according to the approved schedule.
  • Keep management informed of the status of all Threshold Criteria events, from the beginning of the investigation to the implementation of the solutions.
  • Evaluate and trend the success of the solutions to prevent recurrence of all documented problems.
  • Identify the savings generated from the non-repeat of events and calculate the Return On Investment of this initiative – present this information to management periodically.
  • Evaluate all events for common cause using the RealityCharting® Cause > Find Feature or our Enterprise software version called RC Pro™.
  • Create Realitycharts for major successes and make sure all stakeholders know why they have been successful so they can continue to do the same things. This analysis may also identify weaknesses, risks, and serendipitous causal relationships – all of which can be strengthened.


An annual audit of the program, investigation reports, skills, and success/failures should be performed by us or one of our authorized training partners to ensure quality of investigations, adherence to core principles of the Apollo Problem-Solving methodology, ensuring solutions are implemented and systemic problems identified.

Dedicated Incident Investigators

1. Identify Stakeholders

  • Identify all stakeholders who have to solve problems as part of their daily work scope. This usually includes the following:
    • System or Process Engineers
    • Supervisors or Team Leaders
    • Some Managers

2. Training

  • It is recommended that these individuals use the online learning found in our RealityCharting Learning Center™. It takes half the time of classroom learning and produces a better understanding of the method and tools. Once trained, the student can become an Accredited Investigator by taking a test and performing designated tasks to demonstrate proficiency.
  • This training shall consist of each student installing RealityCharting® software and using RC Coach™ to learn the process and the software. If any questions arise during this training, they can contact us or the training consultant and get answers, or you may choose to kick off the training with an online conference.
  • Students will work at least two Facilitation Simulator exercises in the RealityCharting Learning Center™ and use RealityCharting® software to create at least two charts of real problems of their own. We will then review the finished charts to ensure they are done properly and provide feedback as needed.

3. Mentoring Process

  • The Program Champion and other Accredited Investigators should mentor other practitioners and support them to develop their skills for conducting more complex investigations.
  • Note: By encouraging investigators to continuously improve their problem solving skills you not only embed this thinking into the culture, it creates a line of succession if the Program Champion leaves.


Incorporate the ARCA™ problem-solving tools and training into the existing company procedures and protocols as follows:

1. Entry Points

  • Identify problem-solving entry points by reviewing the work processes.
    • Problems can occur anywhere and this evaluation should include what the actions of any employee should be if they identify a problem.
    • This may include Non-Conformance Reports, Corrective Action Reports, and Customer Feedback Forms.

2. Minor Problems

  • If the problem is below the threshold criteria for performing a full-blown ARCA™, employees should use RC Simplified™ to document the problem as they see it and send the Realitychart to their Supervisor/Team Leader and the Program Champion.

3. Getting Help

  • If an employee is not capable of using RC Simplified™ for whatever reason, they should go to their Team Leader, supervisor, or other designated person who does have access and work with them to do the first cut analysis.

4. Problem Identification Form

  • If none of the above will work, the employee should fill out a designated problem identification form and give it to their Team Leader/Supervisor. The form should simply ask them to describe the problem as they see it – this entry point must be simple. Working with the stakeholders involved, the supervisor can then use RC Simplified™ or RealityCharting® to analyze the event.

General Employee Training

1. Watch Video

  • As a minimum all employees should watch the 17-minute Effective Problem Solving video. If possible the Program Champion should be present when watching and answer any questions people may have. The Program Champion may want to stop it at certain points and add examples that are applicable to the specific business. This can be part of the introduction to the effective problem-solving initiative or general employee training.

2. Use RC Simplified™

  • RC Simplified™ is an excellent training tool in addition to an entry-level problem-solving tool. If employees have access to a computer and the web, show them RC Simplified™ and ask them to view the training videos provided in the Help menu of RC Simplified™ and then ask them to create and submit a problem analysis of any problem they may be having now. It can be company related or not. These should be submitted to the Program Champion for review, information and to provide feedback to the individuals to help them understand the principles of causation.

Implementation Strategies

1. Initial Findings

  • If the initial problem analysis using RC Simplified™ provides effective solutions, then implement them according to existing procedures and approval protocol.
    • Send the final analysis to the Program Champion for review and approval and put into the organizations tracking and trending system and/or print, or otherwise transmit the final copy to stakeholders who may need it.
    • The Program Champion will review to determine if the problem exceeds the threshold criteria for a formal investigation and respond accordingly.
    • This review provides the Program Champion oversight of how well the program is working and when and where to adjust it.

2. Incomplete Analysis

  • If the event-analysis using RC Simplified™ does not find effective solutions, then send the initial Realitychart to the Program Champion.
    • The Program Champion will determine if the problem exceeds the threshold criteria for a formal investigation and respond accordingly.
    • The Program Champion will determine if he/she can finish the analysis or if a team is needed to work the issue.
    • If a team is required, the Program Champion will gather the team and work with them to finalize the analysis. The Program Champion may lead the analysis or ask another practitioner to do it. This is usually a function of the size of the organization and the functional domain.


1. Roll Out

  • Depending on the size of the organization it may be necessary to roll this initiative out in a stepwise fashion.
    • You may want to start with one business unit or discipline and as you work out the kinks move to another unit or discipline, until full deployment is achieved.

2. Ease of Deployment

  • Deployment is easy because the RC Learning Center™ is web-based and provides free access to all but RC Coach™.
    • Use the RealityCharting Learning Center™ to access the free videos and other teaching aids as required.
    • Use the Exercises (Step 4) in the RC Learning Center™ to work real-world events and create a Realitychart. If you have problem examples that are specific to your business that you want added to this feature, send them to Realitycharting (www.realitycharting.com) and we will add them. We can remove any sensitive information to make them look generic.
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