“The Line always goes down at the X!”. Fill in the blank. How often do you hear this? That the piece of equipment that goes down on a line or in a process is blamed for the downtime or quality issue. This can sometimes turn into a belief or perception instead of actual information. The equipment is a piece of junk or we have a rebuild coming up or its always been this way are some comments I have heard. What I find interesting is that some organizations at one time or another think this is okay or that this response will satisfy customer demand, employees frustrations or shareholders needs for returns.

I look back at my career and wonder if I have had the reaction to things. I probably have, though I can’t think of it. I am the kind of person that focuses on a few items and then I don’t even look at anything else. I have multiple blind spots and maybe that is why I don’t have too many memories of this type of issue. My real concern is how do we get root cause and deeper thought at the level of manifestation to drive to causation and countermeasure. How do we get this type of analysis of the situation at the very level of incident?

What if we give employees the basic knowledge of their job and then 3 more actions:

  1. If your work becomes harder, notice it
  2. Look where the issue is occurring
  3. Is the problem before or during the process

With these actions, they will at least be able to find out if the issue is internal or external to the process. From that, the lead should be able to do the same 3 steps at their level.

This should at least start the conversation on causation.


Waitress at a restaurant notices that the meals are coming out late and the customers are getting frustrated. Is their job harder? Yes. Okay, I have noticed this. Instead of going back to the cook and yelling, is there something else that I can notice? Are other people getting their food late? Yes or no or don’t know. Am I picking up my food when it is ready? Am I putting my orders in the right process? May be the ordering process is broken or someone called in sick.

You are at your piece of equipment and jams start occurring. Where are they occurring? They are at the end of the process. What is causing it?