Root Cause Analysis
Bad things happen.
The extent of the damage now, or whether bad things happen again, is a product of how we respond. Often without any analysis, we charge ahead with hastily-conceived, ill-considered solutions that merely sweep the badness under the edge of the rug, to be inadvertently revealed at some later date... potentially in some much worse incarnation. What we need is a method that helps us find the core issues affecting our performance.
Root cause analysis (RCA) is a methodology for finding and correcting the most important reasons for performance problems. It differs from troubleshooting and problem-solving in that these disciplines typically seek solutions to specific difficulties, whereas RCA is directed at underlying issues.
•As a business process improvement tool, RCA seeks out unnecessary constraints as well as inadequate controls.
•In safety and risk management, it looks for both unrecognized hazards and broken or missing barriers.
•It helps target CAPA (corrective action and preventive action) efforts at the points of most leverage.
•RCA is an essential ingredient in pointing organizational change efforts in the right direction
•Finally, it is probably the only way to find the core issues contributing to your toughest problems.
If you want your problems to go away…
While it is often used in environments where there is potential for critical or catastrophic consequences, this is by no means a requirement. It can be employed in almost any situation where there is a gap between actual and desired performance. Furthermore, RCA provides critical info on what to change and how to change it, within systems or business processes.
Significant industries using root cause analysis include manufacturing, construction, healthcare, transportation, chemical, petroleum, and power generation. The possible fields of application include operations, project management, quality control, health and safety, business process improvement, change management, and many others.
Your problems may not be spectacular, but they probably have many similarities under the surface. This is the point of root cause analysis -- to dig below the symptoms and find the fundamental, underlying decisions and contradictions that led to the undesired consequences. If you want your problems to go away, your best option is to kill them at the root.
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new