Step by step guide for Problem Solving Workshop


The SAFe recommends 6 steps to manage problem solving workshop

1. Agree on the Problem(s) to Solve

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved” 

  • Define problem statement clearly. It shouldn’t suggest solution
  • The team should focus on the problem which they can control or influence
  • The highest weightage should be economic impact. This would inspire team to put in best possible effort to fix it
  • Focus on few and pick the most important one or max two

Tip – You should be looking at ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’, ‘Impact’ but not ‘Who’. The ‘Who’ would result in blame game which is not the intention

2. Perform Root Cause Analysis

By repeating why five times, the nature of the problem, as well as its solution, becomes clear. – Taiichi Ohno 

  • SAFe preloads main bones with 5 categories people, process, environment, program and tools but this can be anything.
  • The team brainstorm the causes and write them against each bone. Brainstorm potential causes before putting things up on the fishbone
  • Apply 5 Whys technique for each of the root cause


Why? – The battery is dead. (First why)

Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)

Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)

Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (Fourth why)

Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)

Tip – The problem-solving teams should attempt to get at least one problem statement under at least three of the five bones

3. Identify the biggest root cause by using Pareto Analysis

    • The teams will use a Pareto Analysis to find 20% of the root causes that caused 80% of the problem.
    • Team members vote on all the root causes which came up during step 2 to identify the most significant root cause.

4. Restate the new problem for the biggest root-cause

    • The original problem statement may no longer be a core issue. Instead it’s the root cause which led to the original problem statement
    • The next step is to pick the cause with the most votes and restate it clearly as a problem. Precisely,
      redefine the problem statement keeping the root cause in the mind (Highest votes)

5. Brainstorm solutions

    • The team members will brainstorm solutions for the newer problem statement with root cause
    • The team brainstorms as many possible corrective actions as they can think of within a fixed time box (about 15–30 minutes)

6. Create Improvement Backlog Items

      • The teams would rank top 3 most likely solutions and out of which they will create improvement backlogs which would be fed to upcoming PI
      • If you don’t take the action on the problem in upcoming PI, the team will lose confidence on the entire effort