Pointers to Keep in Mind When Performing an RCA
The objective of the following guidelines is to ensure the observance of the right approach for conducting RCA in order to arrive at the most appropriate solution:
1. The team tasked to perform the analysis should have adequate training and should be spearheaded by an RCA expert.
Different ideas and perceived knowledge could easily muddle the information being evaluated. In having a competent leader at the helm, the team members will be guided on knowing when to draw the line in using hypothetical ideas. Fishbone diagrams, for one, allow the use of theoretical ideas but not all problems under study allow mere assumptions as the bases for determining a core reason, especially if the matter being investigated deals with actual incidents.
2. Acknowledge the fact that a problem exists. This is regardless if the incident has actually happened or is only an anticipated risk, for as long as the bases are factual.
This puts the issue of data gathering into the foreground as an essential requirement. Data sources from where inputs are derived should be real, verified and logical. The “cause and effect" principle has long been proven to follow a sequence of events. This is owing to the fact that for every antecedent to a causal factor there is always a deviation from the normal pattern. Perceive that every deviation was spurred by the abnormal occurrence at the critical stage where it originated.
Hence, team members should always be on the lookout for these deviations, validate and track their actual occurrence and keep them in mind when formulating the solutions.
3. Refrain from using data tainted by unfounded “value judgments."
What are value judgments? To define this concept in layman’s term means that the data have been given weight as the bases for conclusions. Gather and use data as it is and avoid adding unconfirmed inferences. Otherwise, this will lead the entire RCA team into adding more inputs that were based on mere supposition. Again, keep in mind that the objective of the exercise is to arrive at a right solution for a real problem, regardless if it has happened or its occurence is still anticipated..
4. Formulate cause and effect questions that are bent on probing instead of speculating.
Whatever type of root cause analysis method being used, start the exercise on a right note by commencing with objectivity in mind. State the exact problem and the circumstances as to what actually happened. If profitability is the issue, give a statement as to how much the company is losing, and establish which product or which activity area is causing the decline in profits.
Avoid posing questions like “How could this be possible?" but instead ask “What made this possible?" Be straightforward by asking “What caused this to happen?" as a substitute to “What could have caused this to happen?".
Please proceed to page 2 for more guidelines and tips for root cause analysis.
Image Credit:Huxham Security Framework by Horatio Huxham for Wikimedia Commons