There are three vital steps in order to perform a root cause analysis. The steps include defining the problem and its affect on goals, analyzing the root causes through visual representation via mapping and preventing unsatisfactory impacts by choosing the solutions that are effective. Defining in stage one asks, “What is the problem?” Analyzing in stage two asks, “Why did it happen?” Whilst stage three, or preventing, asks, “What will be done?”
A root cause map is constructed during a root cause analysis in order to determine the reason for an incident’s occurrence in a visual manner. It links the various relationships in order to come up with potential causes. The relationships that are considered are cause and effect types. It is meant to be a simple map, however some situations require much more detailed maps.
A root cause map begins on the right hand side by stating the problem. The map then involves arrows that point viewers into the direction of causes, which are then asked “Why” for each. Each time the question is asked, the response is added to the right of the respective boxes. The questions continue five times until the root cause of the problem is clearly identifiable. The reason that this works is because it is easy to see when the optimal state of processes has been sacrificed or altered.
The reason that the diagram, known as the fishbone, reads from right to left is because it was created in Japan, where Japanese read in the same direction. It is one of the most commonly used tools for cause-and-effect explanations. Other variations of graphs and diagrams can be used to depict root cause analysis as well. Brainstorming is one of the best ways to come up with solutions once the cause has been determined. Once the analysis is complete, the information should be shared in order for others to understand the root cause of an issue.
About the Author: Shruti Bhat PhD, MBA
Dr. Shruti Bhat is an award-winning Business Excellence Leader, Global Continuous Improvement Mastermind, Best-selling Author and Speaker. She is Continuous Improvement Advisor to several start-ups, mid-size and growing firms in Canada, USA, India, Africa and Emerging markets. She has authored eight business books and is an invited speaker at several national and international conferences, symposia and workshops.
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