Is There a Problem?
Is there a problem with root cause analysis? Depends on how you look at it. First, let’s understand what it is. Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems. A factor is considered a root cause if removal thereof from the problem-fault-sequence prevents the final undesirable event from recurring. Just by the singular title, some look for that single, underlying problem or issue that needs to be resolved. The name itself implies that there is only one root cause, when in reality most problems are usually caused by a complex combination of several factors, some of which are more significant than others.
A Thorough Examination Through Root Cause Analysis
For some, this may be a simple case of semantics. The fact remains that in many cases when using the RCA tool, quality experts find it simple enough to claim victory in a situation with a singular causation. That could be accurate, but more times than not, it simply isn’t the case. An issue that requires attention may have a varied mix of simple and complex causes for failure. To properly address some of these issues requires a structured approach to brainstorming. This will guide the problem-solving team through the various categories of potential causal factors so that the team does not overlook some potentially important causes which lurk in the shadows. The most efficient quality experts will opt for having a cross-functional team help explore the possible causes and potential solution to the problem. Nothing short of a through and exhaustive examination will suffice.
Getting Results That Stick
When the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is properly exercised, the varied and complex issues will be brought to light. It requires a multi-disciplined approach that is both systematic and based on fact. Achieving long term quality improvements starts with an effective root case analysis. The best approach is a properly designed, sequential set of experiments. If a solution exists, a thorough RCA offers the best chance for thoroughly understanding all the issues involved, no matter how complex or simplistic.