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In business, the question is not whether or not problems will arise, but when they will. As a professional in a management position, it is your responsibility to put out any fires that may occur within your department. True great leaders, on the other hand, understand that success is often won by preventing problems from occurring. This is where a root cause analysis can help.

In this blog post, I'll define root cause analysis and walk you through a simple five-step process for performing one effectively. Then, using a real-world example, I'll explain the entire concept. Is that what you mean? Let's get this party started!

Root Cause Analysis Definition     

Let's start with the definition. Root cause analysis is the process of determining the underlying cause of a problem (RCA). When the underlying cause or root of a problem is identified and understood, the problem can be fixed and avoided in the future. (Doesn't that sound simple? It's actually more complicated than that.) Many organisations concentrate on the symptoms of problems rather than the root causes. It's comparable to weeding in the garden. Yes, the current issue will be resolved soon. The undesirable foliage, on the other hand, will continue to sprout unless each weed is dug up and completely rooted out.

The key to identifying the underlying cause of a problem is to ask “why?” Why did the normally reliable equipment fail? Or What prompted the employees to make that decision? The list could go on and on. Each “why” question should be followed by another until the root cause is found.

Let’s Take an Example

Assume your wrists have been bothering you recently. So much so that you've requested time off from work to see a doctor. The doctor diagnoses you with carpal tunnel syndrome and issues you with a prescription for medication. While the medication is helpful, it only treats your current symptoms. If the underlying cause of your wrist pain is not addressed, it is likely that the pain will return in the future. Because you don't want this to happen, you wonder, “Why am I in pain?” A thorough examination reveals that your voracious writing habit caused carpal tunnel syndrome. Every night, you've spent hours working on your debut novel.

Your wrists have been hurting as a result of all of your time at the keyboard, causing you to miss work and visit your doctor, who prescribed medication. How exactly does that work? While root cause analysis is typically used to identify and eliminate problems, it can also be used to identify success factors that can be replicated for long-term success.

Root Cause Analysis Process: Identify Root Causes in 5 Easy Steps

Let's take a look at a simple method for determining root causes. If you follow these five steps, you'll be able to identify not only what went wrong but also why, and you'll be able to use that knowledge to avoid similar problems and mistakes in the future.

Realize the Problem

The first step is to figure out what went wrong. What do you hope to accomplish by conducting a root cause analysis? Primarily, there are 3different types of problems:

Material-Based Issues: These occur when a specific material item, such as a piece of machinery, fails in some way.

People-Based Problems: A people-based problem occurs when human error is the root cause of the current problem. A people problem frequently leads to a material problem, such as when a piece of machinery fails due to an employee's failure to perform routine maintenance on it.

Organizational-Based Issues: The source of an organizational problem is a company process or policy that causes an issue. In our current example, maintenance on the malfunctioning piece of machinery occurred as a result of a faulty company process for assigning maintenance duties.

Collect a Sufficient Amount of Data

As you know what the surface problem is and what symptoms it is causing, you should collect as much information as possible. “For how long this problem had existed in our company?” “How does it affect day-to-day operations?” Obtaining a variety of viewpoints is advantageous at this stage. Involve your employees in the decision-making process; these are the people who deal with this specific problem area on a daily basis. Their viewpoint will be beneficial as you work to identify and eliminate the root cause of a problem.

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root cause analysis, root causes analysis process, root cause analysis examples, root cause analysis definition

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