Root Cause Analysis is a useful process for understanding and solving a problem. Figure out what negative events are occurring. Then, look at the complex systems around those problems, and identify key points of failure. Finally, determine solutions to address those key points, or root causes.
How to conduct Root Cause Analysis?
- Define the problem. Ensure you identify the problem and align with a customer need. …
- Collect data relating to the problem. …
- Identify what is causing the problem. …
- Prioritize the causes. …
- Identify solutions to the underlying problem and implement the change. …
- Monitor and sustain.
Five whys (or 5 whys) is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?”. Each answer forms the basis of the next question.
Within an organization, problem solving, incident investigation, and root cause analysis are all fundamentally connected by three basic questions:
- What’s the problem?
- Why did it happen?
- What will be done to prevent it from happening again?
There are a few core principles that guide effective root cause analysis, some of which should already be apparent. Not only will these help the analysis quality, these will also help the analyst gain trust and buy-in from stakeholders, clients, or patients.
- Focus on correcting and remedying root causes rather than just symptoms.
- Don’t ignore the importance of treating symptoms for short term relief.
- Realize there can be, and often are, multiple root causes.
- Focus on HOW and WHY something happened, not WHO was responsible.
- Be methodical and find concrete cause-effect evidence to back up root cause claims.
- Provide enough information to inform a corrective course of action.
- Consider how a root cause can be prevented (or replicated) in the future.
As the above principles illustrate: when we analyze deep issues and causes, it’s important to take a comprehensive and holistic approach. In addition to discovering the root cause, we should strive to provide context and information that will result in an action or a decision. Remember: good analysis is actionable analysis.