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Problem solving with the eight disciplines

by John Niggl

Many companies, and manufacturers in particular, encounter repeat problems with a product or service. Many times, these problems are reported from customers directly and can negatively impact brand loyalty and reputation. That’s why a method for solving quality problems, known as the Eight Disciplines, or 8D, was created to address issues with quality, remove their root cause and prevent recurrence of the same or similar issues. This article provides a step-by-step approach to solving and preventing quality problems with 8D.

What is the Eight Disciplines Problem Solving Method?

Eight Disciplines is also known as team-oriented problem solving. The method was first developed by Ford Motor Company in the 1980s and is mainly used in processing industries by engineers and other professionals. This method, originally designed to address Ford’s recurring engineering problems, bridges the gap between statistical process control and quality improvement. Eight Disciplines is an indispensable method of quality control and improvement of globalization, and it has become a major component of the automotive industry’s QS9000 and ISO TS16949 quality standards. Ford and other automakers aren’t the only companies that rely on the Eight Disciplines method of problem solving. Other manufacturers have also found the method to be a convenient and effective way to solve and prevent the recurrence of quality problems.

Basic Concepts

8D is the timeless quality problem analysis technique used by Ford Motor Company in the United States.

During World War II, the American government pioneered a process similar to 8D – Military Standard 1520, also called Corrective Action Nonconforming and Deployment System. In 1987, Ford company made a written record of the 8D method for the first time. A course manual was made from this method for its “team-oriented problem solving method” (Team Oriented Problem Solving). At that time, Ford’s power train division had existed for some years and a recurring problem seriously troubled production. Therefore, Ford management pushed the company to provide guidance courses to help mitigate inefficiency.

Why Implement Eight Disciplines?

The Eight Disciplines method can offer an effective solution to deal with quality problems, to further prevent the same and similar problems recurring and to improve product quality. 8D can ultimately improve customer satisfaction and enhance confidence in products and processes. Successful implementation of 8D relies on the establishment of group training, teamwork skills, individual improvement and the team’s ability.

When to Use the Eight Disciplines Method?

Generally, we will use 8D to address the following:

  • Repeated problems that have not been resolved
  • More significant process quality problems; and
  • Complaints from customers related to quality

The Eight Disciplines Defined

Discipline 1. Create a team:

Build a team to solve problems and improve the implementation of the program. Team members should have the appropriate skills, knowledge, resources and authority. In addition, before the establishment of the team, we need to look at the overall leadership group, resource group, the number of personnel and members of the group, explain the division of labor among the members of each team and each member’s role and responsibility.

Discipline 2. Describe the problem:

The problem needs to be explained as clearly and quantitatively as possible to quantify the way to confirm the problem: such as people, things, when, how, why and how much (called 5W2H). The explanation for 5W2H is as follows:

Who: Identify customers (internal or external) that issue complaints

What: Pinpoint the problem accurately

When: Know when the problem started

Where: Locate where the problem is occurring

Why: Identify known explanations

How: Discover in what mode or situation the problem is occurring

How much: Quantify the problem in magnitude

Discipline 3. Implement and verify containment action:

Depending on the nature of the problem, give and implement interim measures to prevent the problem from continuing or worsening.

Generally, the main problem needs to be considered, rather than smaller issues that may present themselves as the signs and symptoms. Discontinue production of the defective product and reduce or eliminate any subsequent adverse impact on customers.

Discipline 4. Identify the root cause:

List all potential causes to explain the root cause of the problem and test and verify each probable cause. Then find the root cause of the problem. Finally, discover corrective actions.

There are frequent causes of analytical methods 5M1E. The main causes of fluctuations in product quality are six factors:

a) Man / Manpower: The operator of quality awareness, technical proficiency and physical condition

b) Machine: machinery and equipment, precision tooling and maintenance status

c) Material: component materials, physical properties and chemical properties

d) Method: including processing, tooling selection, procedures, etc.

e) Measurement: whether the measurement method is standard and correct

f) Environment: workplace temperature, humidity, lighting and cleaning conditions

The 6 elements must be reevaluated whenever a change occurs.

Discipline 5. Formulate and verify corrective actions:

Formulate improvement plans, list all conceivable solutions, select and implement long-term measures to verify improvements and remove the real cause of the problem.

Discipline 6. Correct the problem and confirm the effects:

After implementing the fifth discipline, verify the result and ensure the root cause is removed. Continue to supervise the quality problem’s long-term effects on production.

Discipline 7. Prevent recurrence and standardization:

Ensure that problems do not happen again in Discipline 7. In order to prevent the same problems or similar problems happening again, proceed with the needed changes to the management system, operating system, operating procedures, etc.

Discipline 8. Congratulate the team:

If above all steps are implemented properly and the problem has been improved, congratulate the group’s efforts and plan continued improvement orientation for the future.


In the 8D report, customers absolutely do not want to see a problem analysis report, so identifying the root cause or corrective action/prevention of recurrence is the key. Remember that clients do not supervise what is being done, but records and test report are to prove customer complaints and concerns were heard and addressed seriously.

Implementation of the Eight Disciplines working method shall be assumed by the organization’s top leadership to foster the maximum authorization. Ensure that team members are given the opportunity to engage in the activity. The Eight Disciplines working method requires the establishment of a system that enables the whole team to share information and work hard to reach the target.

Remember that a valid 8D report will enhance the quality of the products and give customers confidence, thus obtaining better customer satisfaction. Finally, when we receive customer complaints, we must follow the 8 steps above, implementing them step-by-step, and record the whole process and the results in the 8D report.

John Niggl is a Client Manager at InTouch Manufacturing Services, a QC firm that performs product inspections and factory audits in China for US and EU clients. John also writes for the QC-related blog, Quality Wars.

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