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Many of us have heard the tale of “The Turtle and the Hare” and their renowned race. At the end, the turtle makes it to the finish line by pacing himself, and the rabbit expends all his energy and never finishes. When it comes to the speed of getting to the finish line of your Root Cause Analysis, this tale and many real world questions come to mind.

  1. Who is mandating the time of root cause analysis completion?
  2. What does finished really mean in relation to this set deadline?
  3. Are there stopping and rest points to reach while you race towards the finish line?
  4. Does racing to the finish line ensure a good root cause analysis with effective corrective actions or does it just mean you won’t be yelled out for missing the deadline mandate instead?

Who is mandating the time of root cause analysis completion?

Is the deadline an internal company or an external client/agency requirement? If it is an external requirement, you really need to evaluate questions 2 and 3 to ensure that you are utilizing your time and resources optimally during the root cause analysis process. If the deadline mandate is an internal company rule, stop and evaluate the timeline requirement for the following criteria:

A. Do you separate Triage Response to the Incident from the actual Root Cause Analysis Investigation of the Incident?

If you stabilize the incident environment first, this will allow you more time to effectively manage your investigation. The risk to further injury and damage is reduced.

B. Do you check that your prescribed corrective actions are not driving what information you collect and analyze during the Root Cause Analysis?

Often investigators drive what they think happened and how they want to fix the problems. This can reduce the time to complete the investigation but like the Hare in the race, you never made it to the true Root Cause Analysis Finish Line.

What does finished really mean in relation to this set deadline?

Are there stopping and rest points to reach while you race towards the finish line?

These two questions can help you define the timeline for investigation completion for your own company’s internal rule; however, it is also mandatory that you understand the client’s/agency’s definitions for the criteria listed above.

For example, a contract company was required to have an incident which occurred on a client’s property investigated analyzed and corrected within 30 days from the incident’s occurrence. There was also a review process where the client would review the incident and reject it for additional clarifications or changes.

The contract company sent the finished investigation with completed correction actions on day 30. The client was frustrated because there was no time per their set deadline to send back the incident for changes. Problem is that the contract company met the mandate as written, no rules were broken.

Investigated, analyzed and corrected are great stopping points to send in information for review. The other question to ask is whether the investigation is finished once the corrective actions are created, implemented or reviewed?

The client in the above example changed their process to have turn in points for review for each phase of the Root Cause Analysis Investigation to ensure that the full 30-day completion date was met with quality investigations and effective corrective actions being completed.

Does racing to the finish line ensure a good root cause analysis with effective corrective actions or does it just mean you won’t be yelled out for missing the deadline mandate?

Now we get to the race itself: 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month. Can a good root cause analysis get completed with good corrective actions within each of the times above? Yes, but it depends.

  1. How complex is the incident?
  2. How recent was the incident?
  3. Does your company have a process to collect evidence and written statements immediately, no matter what the degree or level of incident? (Information is often lost because of a delay to define and incident had a major incident.)
  4. Are your trained TapRooT® Root Cause Investigators available when needed and onsite? (Note that anyone at any level of the company can be trained to perform a Root Cause Analysis)

If your company follows all the key points listed, you are on the way to reaching the finish line to ensure a good root cause analysis with effective corrective actions and not it just meeting the deadline mandate. As far as the Turtle and the Hare? I’ll assign the Hare to triage and stabilize the environment and then assign my Turtle to investigate in an effective pace.

Learn more about conducting quality investigations with effective corrective actions at the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit, August 3-5 in San Antonio, Texas.