Root Cause Analysis

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Finding the real cause of a problem. Explanation of Root Cause Analysis.


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What is Root Cause Analysis? Description

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a structured step by step technique that focuses on finding the real cause of a problem and dealing with that. Rather than merely dealing with its symptoms. Root Cause Analysis is a procedure for ascertaining and analyzing the causes of problems, to determine how these problems can be solved or be prevented from occurring. It is a process to help stakeholders to understand causes of a problem well enough to achieve permanent resolution of that problem.

Usage of Root Cause Analysis. Benefits

Most problematic situations which arise within organizations have multiple approaches to deal with them. These different approaches generally require different levels of resource expenditure to execute them. Because of the perceived immediacy which exists in most of these situations, there is a tendency to opt for the solution which is the most expedient in terms of quickly dealing with the situation.

In doing this, the tendency is generally to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying fundamental problem that is actually responsible for the situation occurring (root cause). Yet, through choosing this expeditious approach to deal with the symptoms, the problematic situation may likely occur again, and must be dealt with over and over again. The costs of these quick solutions can be high over time.

The goal of a Root Cause Analysis is to find out:

  • What happened.
  • Why it happened.
  • What can be done to prevent the problem from happening again.

A root cause is one of the most basic, or fundamental causes of the situation (condition) with which we are concerned. Since the situation (condition) is usually affected by many things (physical conditions, human behavior, behavior of systems, or processes), several root causes will usually be found. Compare: Cause and Effect Diagram

Steps in Root Cause Analysis. Process

The most common element of RCA method variants includes asking why today's situation (condition) occurred. While the answers are recorded. And then asking why for each answer, again and again. RCA attempts to identify contributing factors and all causes. This allows you to proceed further, by asking why, until the desired goal of finding the "root" causes is reached.

Finding root causes will lead us to the next step: to evaluate the best method to change the root cause, so we can improve our current condition. That is another process, commonly known as: corrective and preventive action. While we are searching for root cause, we must remember to review each found cause and factor for correction as well, since this can also provide for great improvements.

While the terminology RCA is generic, in the sense that there exist many different variants of the methodology, it does indicate that some kind of structural methodology will be used on the problem.

Limitations of Root Cause Analysis. Disadvantages

  • This method presupposes a single source of the problem. In reality, the situation may be more complex.

Root Cause Analysis Forum
  You Root Cause, I Root Cause... we All Root Cause
So, what's special about the way you do Root Cause Analysis (RCA)?

1. What industry or domain is the setting for your RCA efforts?
2. For what kinds of issues do you perform RCAs?
3. What makes your industry/domain's RCAs differe...
  The Problem with Management Pragmatism
Managers often hide behind the magic word "pragmatism" to justify their wrong quick-fix approach in handling issues.
Throughout my career to today, I find management hardly ever allocate enough time to implement a really good working solution bu...
  Limitations of Root Cause Analysis
The RCA model assumes:
1. Linearity
2. The existence of cause and effect relationship
3. That a system can be broken down into components and each fragment analyzed (reductionism).
In the past, this has been t...
  Common Reasons for Root Cause Analysis?
Root cause analysis, as any other improvement initiative, should only be done if it brings benefits for the business.
I've supported various organizations in deploying root cause analysis, which had different valid business reasons for doing it....
  Root Causes Categories in Financial Services
We operate in a Financial Services environment and would like to know if anyone has a set of basic categories that they group their root causes under....
  Links between Root Cause Analysis and Business Process Improvement
Let's get some views on the interaction or link between RCA and Business Process Management (BPM) or Business Process Improvement....
  Follow-up on Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
Once the causes have been identified and recommendations are written, who becomes the owner of the RCA? Who is accountable for the realisation of all the action plans and to make sure everything has been done before closing the RCA?...
  What are Common Errors while Performing Root Cause Analysis (RCA)?
I would like to list out the common errors while performing an RCA. I feel this would really help project teams before starting an RCA process....
  The Ultimate Quotes on Root Cause Analysis
Do you know some deep, famous or funny quotes on Root Cause Analysis? Quotations? Proverbs? Please share them, mentioning the author. To get started, here's my favorite:
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own re...
  Other Names for Root Cause Analysis
Another term which is sometimes used for Root Cause Analysis is Critical Event Analysis....

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8-Step Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Process

In an article, Roger Shaw mentions the following 8-stage Root Cause Analysis Process:
1. Preserve the site and evidence as far as possible. In ot...
Usage (application): Implementing Root Cause Analysis, RCA Process

The 5 Whys Method. Definition and How to Apply

The 5 Whys Method was pioneered by Sakichi Toyoda and lately developed by the architect of Toyota Production System Taiichi Ohn...
Usage (application): Alternative to RCA

Approaches to Conducting RCA Activities

One might be tempted to conclude that a completed RCA is the compilation of stakeholder views of "why" a situation occurred.
One can also adopt a...
Usage (application): Root Cause Analysis Methods

4-Step Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Process

One can identify four steps in Root Cause Analyses. These steps are listed below:
1. Data Collection: the analysis of an event through dat...
Usage (application): Root Cause Analysis Process

5 Root Cause Analysis Schools

5 schools of RCA could be distinguished depending on their origin:
1. SAFETY-BASED RCA descends from the fields of accident analysis and occupati...
Usage (application): Understanding Root Cause Analysis

3 Root Causes of Disagreement in Team Decision-making Processes

According to Freeman and Haskins (2014), there are three main categories of potential root causes for disagreements within teams. When such a disagree...
Usage (application): Group Decision-making, Team Decision-making, Reasons for Disagreement, 3 Fs, Group Collaboration

3 Potential Categories of (Root) Causes

Latino and Latino consider in a 1999-paper called 'Root Cause Analysis Improving Performance for Bottom Line Results' that causes of problems can be...
Usage (application): Root Cause Analysis, Ishikawa, 8D, TOC

Team-oriented Root Cause Analysis

The 8-D problem solving process, is a team-oriented method of problem solving. It applies process and statistical tools as its basis:
- Process t...
Usage (application): Team-oriented RCA

Resources - Root Cause Analysis Premium

Personal Problem Solving: Process, Principles and Efficiency

A brief but excellent presentation about some key aspects of effective (personal) problem solving. The presentation includes the following sections: Usage (application): Problem Solving Process, Problem Solving Stages, Problem Solving Steps, Interpersonal Problem Solving

Comparison 3 RCA tools

Article by By Dr. Anthony Mark Doggett compares Cause-and-Effect Diagram (CED), the Interrelationship Diagram (ID), and the Current Reality Tree (CRT)...
Usage (application): Effectiveness CED / ID / CRT

Example of Root Cause Analysis: The Jefferson Memorial

The stone of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC was deteriorating quickly. Using Root Cause Analysis Usage (application): Root Cause Analysis, RCA, 5 Whys, Ishikawa Diagram, Cause and Effect Analysis

How to Use the 5 Whys in Root Cause Analysis

This video explains how you can use the 5 Whys Technique as part of

Determining the Root Cause of a Problem

Presentation about the Root Cause Analysis by
1. Why determine Root Cause?
2. What is a Root Cause?
3. What is RCA?
4. When to per...
Usage (application): Root Cause Analysis, Problem Solving, Analysing

Using the Whys Method

To solve a problem effectively, you need to drill down through the symptoms to the underlying cause. Sakichi Toyoda, one of the fathers of the Japanes...
Usage (application): Six Sigma, Toyoda, Toyota, Lean Production, Root Cause Analysis

First Introduction to 8D Problem Solving and Root Cause Analysis

In this video Adrian Gundy explains 3 important terms or principles you need to understand about the 8 Disciplines or 8D Problem Solving if you are do...
Usage (application): Initial Understanding of Causes of Problems, Workshops, Trainings


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Compare with Root Cause Analysis: Theory of Constraints  |  Cause and Effect Diagram  |  8D Problem Solving  |  Dialectical Inquiry  |  Mind Mapping  |  Pyramid Principle  |  Delphi Method  |  Analogical Strategic Reasoning  |  Action Learning  |  Brainstorming  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  Kepner-Tregoe Matrix  |  Crisis Management  |  Scenario Planning  |  Game Theory  |  Real Options  |  Plausibility Theory  |  RACI  |  Hoshin Kanri - Policy Deployment  |  Turnaround Management

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