Next Generation Root Cause Analysis shows the Way to High-Impact Solutions
During the 1980/1990's and in many organisations, unsolved problems were no option. Root cause analysis delivered their root causes. In turn, this provided the insights to solve them once and for all.
In the increasingly complex world, however, root cause analysis identified too many causes. It didn't work well anymore. In its place came best practices and ongoing process improvement. Initially, it worked. But in today's world, environments change quicker than best practices and processes can be updated.
In this situation we adapted root cause analysis to focus on highest-impact problems and used patterns where data, mathematics and spreadsheets fell short. It delivered causes and insights today's practices (traditional and advanced) had missed. Some of those turned out to be at such fundamental level that they delivered breakthrough results in areas that had not been analysed.
Examples of Root Causes
- The root cause of crippling bureaucracy and overwhelming complexity
- Executives and managers must make decisions while the guidance to what works in today's world is too difficult to find.
- A communication gap between central organizations and the field: Indicators for such a gap are:
- Too many hits with Intranet search.
- Outdated or conflicting strategies, standards, processes and protocols.
- Insufficient compliance in the field.
- Lessons learned being lost regularly.
- A crippling bureaucracy or overwhelming complexity.
- Capacity bottlenecks/traffic jams and their devastating impact: a known phenomenon in complex systems with little attention in the virtual world of processes, IT applications, hierarchies and in brain research.
Characteristis of the New Generation Root Cause Analysis
Following are a couple of characteristics
- The analysis is done to the level that delivers the insights as to what is causing the highest-impact problems. If needed, scope boundaries are crossed.
- Focus is on the high-impact problems. Problem trees help to find them.
- No time is wasted with
- Complains, finger pointing and symptoms: Instead, the following question is asked: what are the changeable problems hiding behind them?
- Hundreds or thousands of low-level problems: Experience tells they are quite often solved automatically by solving the high-impact problems they belong to.
- The changeable problems/root causes are described or illustrated in such a way that they can be smoothly transferred into goals, guidance and/or a solution framework.
- A problem becomes a root cause when it is possible to formulate activities, strategies/standards/rules or solutions that resolve the root cause once and for all.
At the end of the day, what matters is that the remaining problems are reduced to a level so they become manageable.
Solution to found root causes