Root Cause Analysis with Corrective Action Overview



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Root cause analysis involves searching backwards from an undesirable effect (or problem) to its cause(s) and addressing those causes.

  • The term "Root Cause" implies that there is a single cause for a problem.
  • Actually many problems have multiple causes that interact or work together to trigger the event.

The root cause analysis task is to:

  • Identify potential causes.
  • Determine which cause or causes are root causes.
  • Address those root causes to ensure the effect (the problem) does not recur.

Why is root cause analysis so important?

  • If a problem has occurred once, it most likely will occur again (unless something is done to prevent its recurrence.)
  • However, if the root cause is found (and it is addressed,) future occurrences of the same problem CAN BE PREVENTED!
  • Root cause analysis is the key to preventing future problems.

Can all problems be prevented?

  • Probably not - BUT… most recurring problems can be prevented if the root cause is found and addressed.

Four keys to successful root cause analysis:

  • Use a step-wise approach:
    • Standardize the approach throughout the organization.
  • Adopt fact-based decision making:
    • Don't accept opinions, guesses or hunches.
  • Test to confirm:
    • If the root cause has been "found," test to confirm you have indeed identified the root cause or causes.
  • Implement permanent corrective solutions:
    • Does the solution answer the "root cause question?"
    • (The root cause question: Does this cause explain all that we know about what the problem is, as well as all we know about what the problem is not?)
    • Is the solution practical, feasible and cost-effective?
    • Is the solution robust and sustainable?

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