When people discover problems, the most frequent response is to rush to find a solution.
Finding an immediate fix for the problem is very satisfying no matter how many times this process occurs. Unfortunately, it is not the best way to solve a problem, as it leads to the need to solve the same problem repeatedly. A better approach is to eliminate its root cause.One of the most important steps in any improvement activity is root cause analysis. This is where the real cause of the problem is uncovered and explored in detail.
3 simple steps to achieve this:
Many problem-solving activities applied without this approach, result in managing a symptom of the problem rather than eliminating the root cause of the problem. The root cause is one that, if corrected, would prevent a recurrence of the problem. There may be a series of causes that are identified, one leading to another, or more than one cause that combine to create the problem.
The best technique to determine Root Cause? - 5 Whys -
Asking "Why?" may be a favourite technique of your three-year-old child in driving you crazy, but it could teach you a valuable lesson. The 5 Whys is a great simple technique that does not involve any type of data analysis or more complex statistical analysis activities. It keeps your root cause analysis very simple and easy to be run by anyone in your business.By repeatedly asking the question "Why" (five is a good rule of thumb), you can peel away the layers of symptoms which can lead to the root cause of a problem. Very often the ostensible reason for a problem will lead you to another question. Although this technique is called "5 Whys," you may find that you will need to ask the question fewer or more times than five before you find the issue related to a problem.
Benefits of 5 Whys
When is 5 Whys most useful?
How to complete the 5 Whys
An example of using 5 Whys
Problem Statement: Customers are unhappy because they are being shipped products that don't meet their specifications.
In this case only four Whys were required to find out that a non-value-added signature authority is helping to cause a process breakdown.
5 Why’s and The Fishbone Diagram
5 Whys can be used individually or as a part of the fishbone (also known as the cause and effect or Ishikawa) diagram. The fishbone diagram helps you explore all potential or real causes that result in a single defect or failure. Once all inputs are established on the fishbone, you can use the 5 Whys technique to drill down to the root causes.
The simplest way to ensure all aspects of a problem are assessed when doing root cause analysis is using CATWOE (defined by Peter Checkland’s team as a part of the Soft Systems Methodology in 1975).
This technique can be used when identifying the problem, to prompt thinking about what you are really trying to achieve, or when seeking to implement the solution, to help consider the impact on the people involved.