Pointing to cause

I see it all the time. People generally have no clue how to do a real root cause analysis. This results in many different issues. For example, your root cause is that if you had the solution you had in mind in place, the problem would never have occurred. Therefore the only possible solution is to implement that solution. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, but how often do you see this? I see it all the time.

Luckily for all you lovely people there are ways to avoid this. Firstly when doing a root cause analysis do not just ask “why?”. What? I hear you cry! That is what the whole tool is about. But is it? 5 whys is about identifying and mapping cause and effect relationships for a given situation. Therefore the question I like to ask is, “what could cause….?” This helps because it retains us in the cause mindset and helps avoid the solution mindset. Solutions will have their time once we understand the problem’s causes to the real root level.

Secondly try asking therefore going back up the chain from the root cause to the problem statement. Remember you are telling a story of consequences leading up to the problem. If something doesn’t make sense when you do this, review it and alter things. Most likely you will have taken a big jump and need to add some more steps in. This is very common.

My final tip for today is do not ignore the physics of the situation. I will give you a real example. A problem I was helping a colleague with. He had a metal pin, in a hole in a plastic part. The pin was getting small and the hole was getting larger. What is the cause? Well, it wasn’t what my colleague thought it was for sure. He theorized that the plastic was swelling causing excessive friction between the plastic and the pin. Not too much application there really. He ignored that there must be physical movement between the two parts to cause the wear.

I did have another tip for you which I had written but it seems the WordPress app on my ipad thought it was a bad tip and lost it. If I remember what it is I will write it in.


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