November 19, 2013 Leave a comment
A typical interpretation of a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is to identify parties responsible and apportion blame. I prefer to believe a Root Cause Analysis is a tool to discover internal and external deficiencies and put in place changes to improve them. These deficiencies can span the entire spectrum of a system of people, processes, tools and techniques, all contributing to what is ultimately a regrettable problem.
Rarely is there a singular causal event or action that snowballs into a particular problem that necessitates a Root Cause Analysis. Biases, assumptions, grudges, viewpoints are typically hidden baggage when investigating root causes. Hence it is preferable to use a somewhat analytical technique when faced with a Root Cause Analysis. An objective analytical technique assists in removing these personal biases that make many Root Cause Analysis efforts less effective than they should .
I present below a rationale and template that I have used successfully for conducting Root Cause Analysis. This template is light enough to be used within a couple of short facilitated meetings. This contrasts to exhaustive Root Cause Analysis techniques that take days or weeks of applied effort to complete. In most occasions, the regrettable action is avoidable in the future by making changes that become evident in a collective effort of a few hours to a few days. When having multiple people working on a Root Cause Analysis, this timebox allows analysis within a day.