What do we usually do when problems occur at work? Do we analyze them first before doing something about them? Do we just dive in and try to solve everything? What happens if we only see the surface? What if serious matters lie much deeper than that? To answer the questions above, let’s start with getting to know the root cause analysis.
The Definition of Root Cause Analysis
What is root cause analysis? It is an approach in identifying what lies deep within every problem. From there, the next step is to identify and implement effective solutions. Although this approach is often used during a crisis, that does not mean it cannot be used when everything goes well too.
There are three basic questions we must start with:
What’s the problem?
Why did it occur?
What should be done to prevent that from happening again?
There are three types of root cause analysis, such as:
Physical causes. For example: a car’s brakes that won’t work anymore.
Human causes. People tend to do something wrong. Sometimes they do so because they need to. For example: the brake fluid is not filled, so no wonder the brakes stop working.
Organizational causes. It can be a system, a process, or a policy that people at work use to make decisions or work things out. When it is faulty (when no one bothers to fill the brake fluid and assumes it is somebody else’s job), then it is a problem.
Steps To Perform Root Cause Analysis
So, how can we perform root cause analysis at work? Below are the five steps to follow:
Defining the problem This is the part where you should identify if you see something coming and what the symptoms are.
Collecting data In this step, there are three things you need to ask yourself and find the answers to:
What is the proof that the problem exists and persists?
How long has it been going on?
What is the impact this problem has given? Analyze the situation firsthand and comprehensively before focusing on the factors contributing to the problem. Gather everyone who is most familiar with the problem, like front-line staff and experts. They may be able to help you to understand the problem better.
Identifying the possible causal factors In this part, you must identify the possible causal factors to the problem. For starters, figure out the sequence of events that lead to the problem. Identify the condition(s) which may have allowed the problem to persist and other issues that may have surrounded the central one. Try not to miss anything when identifying the possible causal factors. You would like to get to the bottom of this and get it over with.
Identifying the root cause(s) There are two questions in this part:
The reason the causal factor exists.
The real reason behind the problem that has occurred. Like with STEP THREE, you must dig deeper to answer these two questions.
Recommending and implementing solutions In this part, here are the questions you also need to ask yourself and find the answers to:
What can you do to prevent the same problem from occurring once again?
How do you get the solutions to be implemented?
Who will take the responsibility to make sure the solutions are implemented?
What are the risks behind the implementation of the answers?
Figuring out solutions to the problems is not a one-time thing. You also need to plan ahead to see whether the solutions will have their own side effects and whether they will do more harm than good. This is how you can spot the potential failures and ensure they do not occur.
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