If you are coming to the issue of root cause analysis for the first time, there will be several steps that you will want to take in order to avoid pit falls and to make sound decisions regarding possible deployment within your organization. Whether you are examining potentials and options for a few persons or for a corporate-wide implementation, you will need to thoughtfully assess the benefits and commitments the decision represents.
To be at this juncture means that you are experiencing or expecting to experience problems within your operation, and want to prepare your personnel with the skills to identify the sources of operations problems, to be able to develop solutions and be able to communicate both the causes and the solutions internally within the organization.
What is key?
In describing an effective root cause analysis program, it goes without further explanation that the skill in accurately pinpointing causes of a problem is the linchpin upon which the functions of all other elements and capabilities are dependent. While REASON provides a full system of fundamental and essential utilities and capabilities that are necessary to establish and maintain a successful operations improvement program, at the deep core of REASON is the one defining quality that sets it apart from all other root cause analysis systems; it provides a repeatable inquiry process with criteria for accuracy and completeness.
Why do a repeatable process and criteria for accuracy play such a crucial role in the success of your root cause analysis program? When we say repeatable process, we are speaking of a process that many different persons can learn and do separately to come up with the same results. We are speaking of having a way to establish and verify correctness of data. These are the two fundamental requirements for transferring knowledge and skill. When debate, deliberation, brain storming or personal opinion form the core of your process , no objective criteria for accuracy exist. Whether you are dealing with one person, or a class, or a workforce, when teaching the skills of root cause analysis, one must have a repeatable process for individuals to follow and a set of objective criteria by which both instructors and the students can independently define, assess and communicate accurately. REASON is unique in the RCA marketplace for its level of repeatability, objectivity and accuracy.
If you are already experienced in deploying operations improvement programs, and are examining the benefits of upgrading your basic data about the internal systemic causes of your problems in order to increase the consistency and effectiveness of your existing programs, please see the companion article Taking It Up A Notch.