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Let’s SURF to Solve a Problem

Posted on February 22, 2016 in Articles


A problem is any difficult matter requiring a solution. At work, we encounter  problems when need to overcome any non-conformities to a requirement, face difficulties in understanding or accomplishing a task, unable to do things better and so on. While we feel bothered by the problems, it is not necessarily bad. A problem is an opportunity for improvement. However, this opportunity can only be realized by effective problem solving.

Problem solving is an essential skill that most people require. Having the right problem solving methodology with the supporting tools will enable the problems to be solved effectively and efficiently in a timely manner. There are many renowned problem solving methodologies such as PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act), QC Story, 8D (8-Discipline), DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control), TRIZ (The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) and etc. Different methods may be used depending on preference and situation.

All are mean to organize the thought process in a logical way for effective problem solving. To keep it simple, the SURF model provides the 4 essential steps which are embedded in all problem solving methodologies.


Surf Model

The 4 steps of SURF model can be described as below:
  • State the problem; to clarify what is happening in specific.
  • Understand the situation; to collect data and process information to understand the situation and pattern of happening.
  • Root up the cause; to identify and drill down to the root causes of happening.
  • Fix it & make it stay fixed; to identify and implement effective and sustainable solution to correct and prevent the happening.

The SURF model is easy to understand and therefore easy to apply to most people and in most situations. So, whenever a problem happens, it is an opportunity for us to improve. What we need to do is just to SURF it.

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