I have worked through and trained multiple teams related to group problem solving and one of the items that continues to show up during the training is that now that we have found a root cause, what do you do about it? I have used a process that will hopefully help.

My focus during root cause analysis is skill acquisition not learning so I want a real world example and get into the details instead of a PowerPoint presentation. That being said, once we go down the 5 why road or some other process, inevitably the team gets to the point of now what? Here has been my approach and I am sure there are others so please let me know.

Eliminate – How do we, through the process or through engineering / design can the root cause be eliminated? This can be a page layout in SAP or some other software package, mistake proofing a jig so that the part can only be set up one way, or modifying the equipment so that the issue can’t occur.

Limit – How can I minimize the impact? Once again some of the items above can be used but it also ends up doing some type of preventative maintenance or work instruction to ensure that the impact that the improvements didn’t fix are cleaned up. In the transactional world, this could be a folder that houses all the errors is created and cleaned up on a daily basis. On the manufacturing floor, it could be a box that catches dust and debris and is replaced every shift. For all the hard work the teams I have been associated with, this is where we usually end up.

Troubleshooting and Training – This is perhaps the most difficult of the options because widespread and long standing behaviors will need to be changed. This is the process changing and troubleshooting stage. This usually occurs more on the service and manufacturing arenas but it can also be in the admin / transactional environments. This is where the operator recognizes the error, either through a signal in the process developed in the mistake proofing phase of the team project or a poor quality product. From this the operator goes through a if then checklist to make sure the actions are standardized. Once this set of actions is performed and there is still and issue, maintenance gets involved. This could be IT, Equipment techs or Maintenance Techs on the production or hospital floor. They will go through a similar list of if then checklist until there is resolution.

Once again, I am sure there are other approaches that work as well or better and I would appreciate feedback.
After a couple of real examples are gone through, root cause analysis is a simple skill to acquire, but resolving the issue to satisfaction is where the heavy lifting occurs.

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