Category: Root Cause Analysis Tips

See TapRooT® Explore How They’re Changing the Way the World Solves Problems

December 14th, 2017 by

We’re pleased to announce that Mark Paradies’  interview on Worldwide Business with kathy ireland® is scheduled to air on Fox Business Network as sponsored programming.

CLICK HERE to view the recent press release.

Please reference the broadcast information below. You may also reference the channel finder below for market by market air times.

Air Date
December 17, 2017
Network and Time
Fox Business Network – 5:30pm EST
Channel Finder
http://www.foxbusiness.com/channel-finder.html

My 20+ Year Relationship with 5-Why’s

December 11th, 2017 by

I first heard of 5-Why’s over 20 years ago when I got my first job in Quality. I had no experience of any kind, I got the job because I worked with the Quality Manager’s wife in another department and she told him I was a good guy. True story…but that’s how things worked back then!

When I was first exposed to the 5-Why concept, it did not really make any sense to me; I could not understand how it actually could work, as it seemed like the only thing it revealed was the obvious. So, if it is obvious, why do I need it? That is a pretty good question from someone who did not know much at the time.

I dived into Quality and got all the certifications, went to all the classes and conferences, and helped my company build an industry leading program from the ground up. A recurring concept in the study and materials I was exposed to was 5-Why. I learned the “correct” way to do it. Now I understood it, but I still never thought it was a good way to find root causes.

I transferred to another division of the company to run their safety program. I did not know how to run a safety program – I did know all the rules, as I had been auditing them for years, but I really did not know how to run the program. But I did know quality, and those concepts helped me instill an improvement mindset in the leaders which we successfully applied to safety.

The first thing I did when I took the job was to look at the safety policies and procedures, and there it was; when you have an incident, “ask Why 5 times” to get your root cause! That was the extent of the guidance. So whatever random thought was your fifth Why would be the root cause on the report! The people using it had absolutely no idea how the concept worked or how to do it. And my review of old reports validated this. Since then I have realized this is a common theme with 5-Why’s; there is a very wide variation in the way it is used. I don’t believe it works particularly well even when used correctly, but it usually isn’t in my experience.

Since retiring from my career and coming to work with TapRooT®, I’ve had literally hundreds of conversations with colleagues, clients, and potential clients about 5-Why’s. I used to be somewhat soft when criticizing 5-Why’s and just try to help people understand why TapRooT® gets better results. Recently, I’ve started to take a more militant approach. Why? Because most of the people I talk to already know that 5-Why’s does not work well, but they still use it anyway (easier/cheaper/quicker)!

So it is time to take the gloves off; let’s not dance around this any longer. To quote Mark Paradies:
“5-Why’s is Root Cause Malpractice!”

To those that are still dug in and take offense, I do apologize! I can only share my experience.

For more information, here are some previous blog articles:

What’s Wrong With Cause-and-Effect, 5-Why’s, & Fault Trees

Comparing TapRooT® to Other Root Cause Tools

What’s Fundamentally Wrong with 5-Whys?

Not Near-Misses … They Are Precursors

December 5th, 2017 by

I had an epiphany today.

Have you ever noticed how management doesn’t take near-miss incidents seriously? They don’t see them as just one step away from a fatality?

I think part of the problem may be the terminology.

Near-miss just doesn’t sound very serious. After all … it was a miss.

But what if we called these incidents PRECURSORS.

A precursor tells you that something IS going to happen unless you change.

If management saw these incidents as an indicator that something was GOING TO HAPPEN, then, maybe, they would take action.

You may have already thought of this and changed the language that you use around incidents … but I haven’t seen the words PRECURSOR INCIDENTS used very often. Now may be the time to start.

One more thing … Precursor Incidents mean that incidents that could not cause an accident ARE NOT precursors. Thus, paper cuts are not precursors of amputations.

Therefore, we can stop wasting our time investigating incidents that will never cause a serious injury.

Just a thought…

How Do You Get Started Using TapRooT® to Improve Your Root Cause Analysis?

November 21st, 2017 by

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Start where you are, with what you have.
Make something of it and never be satisfied.
George Washington Carver

When someone asks me where they should start when implementing TapRooT® to improve root cause analysis, my answer is ALWAYS:

It depends on where you are.

Your company vision makes all the difference in deciding what you need to do first to implement TapRooT® as you problem solving tool of choice.

What is your corporate vision? It is one of these three:

  • Blame Vision
  • Crisis Vision
  • Opportunity to Improve Vision

If you don’t know about these three types of “Vision,” read about them in the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Leadership Lessons book.

If your company looks for problems as an opportunity to improve, you are in luck! Your company has the Opportunity to Improve Vision and you have a high probability of success! You can begin with any of the “getting started” sections of the book, TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Implemention – Changing the Way Your Company Solves Problems.

There are three main places to start that are described in the book…

Chapter 1 describes the most frequently used way to start using the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System: “Just Do It.” This is a fast way to see the benefits that TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis provides.

Chapter 2 describes incorporating the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Tools into an already existing improvement system. If you have implemented Lean, Six Sigma, TQM, RCM, TPM, ISO, Operational Excellence, Process Safety Management, Patient Safety, Behavior Based Safety, or HU, this might be the place that you choose to start implementing TapRooT®.

Chapter 3 describes a complete implementation of TapRooT® based on the best practices we have observed from TapRooT® Users from around the world. This guide to audit a “complete” implementation may seem complex. Perhaps that is why so many TapRooT® Users start with the simpler methods described in Chapters 1 and 2 and use Chapter 3 as their ultimate goal.

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Read TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Implemention – Changing the Way Your Company Solves Problems and learn more about implementing TapRooT® at your site. Or give us a call at 865-539-2139 or contact us through our web site by CLICKING HERE to discuss your options.

But whatever you do … DON”T WAIT. Problems aren’t going to get any smaller while you wait to improve your root cause analysis.

Put your root cause analysis data to use

November 20th, 2017 by

 

“Just as the introduction of electricity shifted the world’s industrialized economies into higher gear a century ago, digital technologies are fueling economic activity today. This time, however, the transformation is unfolding exponentially faster.” from Digital America: A Tale of the Haves and Have Mores, McKinsey & Company

We live in an age of information, data is collected in evermore places and shared between people and machines in the IoT. Data collection and analysis is becoming easier and easier, with apps, new devices and software.

Still, in the construction industry 30% to 60% of contractors surveyed in the recent Construction Technology Report use manual processes or spreadsheets to manage takeoff, estimating, subcontractor prequalification, bids and data collection. Fewer than half of contractors responding to the survey use mobile apps for daily reporting, worker time entry, managing safety, or tracking job performance.

When it comes to investigating issues and doing root cause analysis, the TapRooT® approach yields effective and consistent results across different industries. For several years software has been available to support teams with their investigations. Now in it’s 6th version, the TapRooT® software offers the highest productivity. Charting incidents is easy, powerful tools assist with identifying Causal Factors and Root Causes, as well as with writing Corrective Actions.

New and improved graphing tools makes it easy to plot data, and trends can be better captured, over time. Watch this short video, or read more here. Stay tuned for updates about a future smart phone App.

#taproot_RCA

Five Trends that Will Impact Companies in Environment, Health and Safety in 2018

November 17th, 2017 by

As we approach 2018, now is a good time to look at some external trends to gauge what is coming down the pike. At System Improvements we recently fired up the crystal balls, and spotted five trends that will impact companies:

  • Proactive Safety Culture,
  • Reporting Capability
  • Focus on Prevention
  • Work force changes
  • Increased Drug Use

Let’s look at each of these.

Proactive Safety Culture: Executives continue to get more involved, safety is seen as an improvement opportunity and something to be managed, rather than a liability driven by chance or “workers unsafe actions”. Preventive methods will be used more, like work site evaluations, audits, functional job analysis, and ergonomics training. Instead of having impossible goals like “Zero Harm”, companies will set improvement KPIs, then investigate, track and trend incidents and near misses and put corrective actions in place

Reporting Capability: User- friendly software like TapRooT® and Enablon is available for capturing data and carrying out analysis. Mobile apps and devices like wearable technology enables rapid collection and dissemination of findings. Training is readily available to make sense of the data collected and empower the front line

Focus on Prevention: Companies take active steps to prevent injuries and promote health and safety. We will see more fitness and wellness initiatives but also focus on “intangible” issues like stress, fatigue and mental health. Companies out of line will face ever- increasing Workers Comp costs

Work Force Changes: The age distribution and values of workers are changing, with millennials entering the workforce. The shortage of skilled workers will get worse, and there will be more contract and temp workers. It will be important to involve all these groups in the EHSQ efforts. There will also be more lone and unsupervised workers, which makes behavior- based safety much more difficult to implement

Increased Use of Illegal and Legalized Drugs:  Serious safety, quality and environmental risk. Executives will have to find ways to manage the opioids cycle where injuries drive prescriptions and workers under the influence of opioids get injured again… In some jurisdictions legalization of marijuana is disqualifying a large share of the worker pool from safely operating vehicles, machinery and equipment. In the Hotels & restaurant industry, research found up to 19% of workers using drugs on a regular basis, a clear risk in e.g. kitchen areas. Alcohol will continue to be an issue, not least in Mining and Construction where up to a fifth of workers are estimated to be affected.

A good way to prepare for these trends is to do effective Root Cause Analysis. The TapRooT® methodology helps companies identify root causes of incidents, and put effective corrective actions in place. The process is also used for proactive audits, where issues can be nipped in the bud. Click here for more information: 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training.

Is TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis a Tool or the Whole Toolbox?

November 14th, 2017 by

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I had a self-proclaimed root cause analysis expert tell me that investigators needed lots of “tools” in their root cause analysis toolbox. For most people that leads to the question:

How many tools do I need to learn?

When we started to develop TapRooT® back in the 1980’s, we thought we just needed a tool. We soon learned that we needed a toolbox. So we went to work finding, developing, and refining the best root cause analysis tools and adding them to our root cause analysis toolbox called the TapRooT® Root Cause System.

You might ask:

What’s in the toolbox?

The TapRooT® 7-Step Major Investigation Process from the book, Using TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis for Major Investigations, shows all the major tools in the right column.

SI Chart 7 StepMajorInvestigation

How can you learn these techniques and “fill your toolbox” with tools proven to be successful by TapRooT® Users from around the world? Attend one of our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training Courses. See the locations and dates for our public courses around the world at:

http://www.taproot.com/store/5-Day-Courses/

But why should you learn these tools?

First, we spent decades of research and developing choosing, developing, and refining these techniques to make them the most successful root cause analysis toolbox in the world. See our user success stories at:

http://www.taproot.com/archives/category/success-stories?s=

The research and testing we performed showed us the limitations of some common root cause analysis tools that some experts try to teach and have trouble getting their students to achieve consistent results. We based our selection of techniques on human factors principles. This makes our system robust yet easy to use.

We also decided to limit the techniques we chose to those that you would really need. Most people don’t get tremendous amounts of experience performing root cause analyses. Thus, we wanted to minimize the training and practice required to use TapRooT®. We made it so that TapRooT® can be applied to low-risk incidents (simple incidents) or medium to high-risk incidents. In that way people get experience applying TapRooT® to simple incidents so that they are practiced using the techniques when something big happens (God forbid).

Also, we built human factors experts systems (AI) into the TapRooT® System to help investigators find the root causes of human errors and equipment problems.

Finally, do other root cause analysis systems provide this course guarantee:

Attend this course, go back to work, and use what you have learned to analyze accidents,
incidents, near-misses, equipment failures, operating issues, or quality problems.
If you don’t find root causes that you previously would have overlooked and
if you and your management don’t agree that the corrective actions that you recommend
are much more effective, just return your course materials/software
and we will refund the entire course fee.

That’s a powerful guarantee. And we can offer it because of the hundreds of thousands of people we have trained who apply TapRooT® sucessfully. We know you, too, will be successful.

Why not create your own toolbox?

You could duplicate our efforts, spend decades researching and perfecting your own toolbox of root cause analysis tools. Then you could develop training courses to teach what you learned. But guess what … your system still wouldn’t be as good as TapRooT®. Why? Because while you were doing your research, we would be improving. We constantly make the TapRooT® Books, Training, and Software better.

Besides the feedback we get from thousands of users and from classes we hold around the world, we have a TapRooT® Advisory Board that makes suggestions and reviews improvement ideas. This helps us keep making the best even better.

And one last advantage that we have … very talented instructors. We have 50 instructors at various locations around the world that have extensive experience teaching and using the TapRooT® System. And these instructors are constantly sharpening their skills. We have a link on our blog with a few profiles of our instructors but we are way behind on keeping it updated. This gives us something to improve!

If you want to learn more about TapRooT®, attend a class. Or at least see the About TapRooT® page on our web site.

Interviewing & Evidence Collection Tip: Preparing Your Accident Investigation Kit

November 9th, 2017 by

 

Last week we talked about being ready for the unexpected to happen, including preparing an accident investigation grab-and-go kit. Let’s flesh that out a little more.

I mentioned that an accident investigation kit can be as simple as forms (such as a form to record initial observations of the witnesses) and a disposable camera. Here are some other ideas that are useful across industries:

Cones

Tape measure

Flashlight

Evidence tags and bags

Tweezers

Work and latex gloves

PPE

Barricade tape

Camera & tripod

Graph Paper

Witness Statement Forms

Paper, clipboard, pen

Copy of  Accident Investigation Policy

What other ideas do you have? Comment below.

Join me and Reb Brickey on February 26 and 27, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee for our TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills to learn more about this topic.

Interviewing & Evidence Collection Tip: Are you Ready for the Unexpected?

November 2nd, 2017 by

 

No one wants an accident to happen but it’s important to be ready. Here are four things to get into place so you will be:

1. Formal investigation policy. Do you have a policy that sets out the reporting process, goals of investigation and the systematic process an investigator will use to complete the investigation? Has it been updated within the past year?

2. Emergency response. Is your response plan written down? Do you have trained responders who can administer care and who will mitigate additional damages after an accident? Has the list of first responders been evaluated within the past year (people come and go and new people may need to be trained).

3. Accident investigation training. Do all employees know how to report accidents and near-misses? Are all of your investigators trained in the systematic process of investigation set out in your investigation policy?

4. Accident investigation kit. Do you have tools and equipment that aids your investigators gathered together in a grab-and-go kit? This varies from facility to facility, industry to industry. It may be as simple as forms (such as a form to record initial observations of the witnesses) and a disposable camera.

Join me and Reb Brickey on February 26 and 27, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee for our TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills to learn more about this topic.

KISS and Root Cause Analysis

November 1st, 2017 by

I’ve heard many “experts” claim that you need to apply the KISS principle when it comes to root cause analysis. You may hear this too and I want you to understand where these experts lead many people astray.

First, what is KISS? Keep It Simple Stupid! The acronym implies that simple solutions are better solutions. And when simple solution work (are effective) KISS is a dream come true. But remember Einstein’s quote:

Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.

So let’s start with some of the reasons that these experts say you need to use simple techniques and debunk or demystify each one. Here’s a list of common expert advice.

  1. It’s a waste of time to use full root cause analysis on every problem.
  2. People can’t understand complex root cause analysis techniques.
  3. Learning simple techniques will get people to start thinking deeper about problems.
  4. Simple is just about as good as those fancy techniques.
  5. Managers don’t have time to do fancy root cause analysis and they already know what is wrong.
  6. You can apply those complicated techniques to just the most serious accidents.
  7. The data from the simple investigations will help you identify the more complex issues you need to solve.

I see these arguments all the time. They make me want to scream! Let me debunk each one and then you too can dismiss these “experts” the next time they try one or more of these arguments on your management team.

1. It’s a waste of time to use full root cause analysis on every problem.

I actually sort of agree with this statement. What I don’t agree with is the answer they arrive at. Their answer is that you should apply some “simple” root cause analysis technique (let’s just say 5-Whys as an example) to “solve” these problems that don’t deserve a well thought out answer.

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First, what do I have against their ideas of simple root cause analysis? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know what I’m going the explain, so just skip ahead. For those who don’t know what’s wrong with most “simple” root cause analysis techniques, I would suggest start reading from the top of the links below until you are convinced that most expert advice about “simple” root cause analysis is root cause analysis malpractice. If you haven’t been convinced by the end of the links … perhaps you are one of the experts I’m talking about. Here’s the list of links:

What happens when root cause analysis becomes too simple? Six problems I’ve observed. 

An Example of 5 Whys – Is this Root Cause Analysis? Let Me Know Your Thoughts…

What’s Wrong with 5-Whys??? – Complete Article 

What’s Fundamentally Wrong with 5-Whys?

Teruyuki Minoura (Toyota Exec) Talks About Problems with 5-Whys

I believe that one of the biggest root cause analysis problems that companies face is that they are performing “root cause analysis” on problems that don’t need to be analyzed.  YES – I said it. Not every problem deserves a root cause analysis.

What problems don’t need to be analyzed? Problems that aren’t going to teach you anything significant. I call these “paper cut problems.” You don’t need to investigate paper cuts.

But some people would say that you do need to investigate every loss time injury and medical treatment case. Maybe … maybe not.

You do need to investigate an incident if it could have caused an outcome that you are trying to prevent and there are worthy lessons learned. Some medical treatment cases fall into this category. They got a cut finger but they could have lost their whole arm.

Two similar examples are provided in the book: Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incidents. One is a sprained ankle and one is a sprained wrist. Both came from falling down. One was judged worthy of a full but simple root cause analysis using the essential features of the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System. One was judged not worthy of a full investigation after a simple SnapCharT® was developed. Interested in how this works? Read the book. It’s only 100 pages long and seeing how to judge if a root cause analysis is worthwhile is worth it. (And you will learn how to apply TapRooT® simply to low-to-medium risk incidents.)

Once you know how to do a real “simple” investigation with an effective technique, you won’t need to do bad root cause analysis with an ineffective technique.

2. People can’t understand complex root cause analysis techniques.

I don’t know every “complex” root cause analysis technique but I do know that this statement does NOT apply to TapRooT®. Why? Because we’ve tested it.

One “test” was at a refinery. The Operation Manager (a good guy) thought that TapRooT® was a good system but wasn’t sure that his operators would understand it. We decided to run a test. We decided to teach a basic class to all his union stewards. Then refinery management did a focus group with the shop stewards.

I was one of the instructors and from the course examples that they analyzed, I knew that they were really enjoying finding real root causes rather than placing blame.

They did the focus group (with us in another room). I could hear what was going on. The first question the facilitator asked was: “Did you understand the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Technique?” One of the shop stewards said …

“If I can run a Cat Cracker I can certainly understand this! After all, it’s not rocket science!”

And that’s one of the great parts about TapRooT®. We’ve added expert systems for analysis of equipment and human performance problems, but we’ve kept the system understandable and made it easy to use. Making it seem like it isn’t rocket science (even though there is a whole bunch of science embedded in it) is the secret sauce of TapRooT®.

3. Learning simple techniques will get people to start thinking deeper about problems.

Learning to count is required before you learn calculus BUT counting over and over again does not teach you calculus.

If you don’t understand the causes of human performance problems, you won’t find the causes of the problems by asking why. And I don’t care how many times you ask why … it still won’t work.

For years we did a basic poll at the start of our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Courses. We asked:

“How many of you have had any formal training in human factors or the causes of human error?”

Only about 2% of the attendees had ANY training on the causes of human error. But almost everybody that attended our training said that they had previously been assigned to find the causes of human errors. I wonder how well that went? (I can tell you from the student feedback, they said that they really DID NOT address the real root causes in their previous investigations.)

So, NO. Learning simple techniques DOES NOT get people to “think deeper” about problems.

4. Simple is just about as good as those fancy techniques.

NO WAY.

First, I’ve never seen a good example of 5-Whys. I’ve seen hundreds of bad examples that 5-Why experts thought were good examples. One “good example” that I remember was published in Quality Progress, the magazine from the American Society for Quality (ASQ). I couldn’t stand it. I had to write a reply. When I sent the letter to the editor, they asked me to write a whole article … so I did. To see the example and my article that was published in Quality Progress, see page 32 of the link below:

Under Scrutiny: A Critical Look at Root Cause Analysis.

Simple is not “almost as good” as real root cause analysis (TapRooT®). If you would like another example, see Chapter 3: Comparing the Results of a 5-Why Investigation to a Basic TapRooT® Investigation in the book, Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incidents.

That’s it – Case Closed. Those “simple” techniques are NOT just about as good as TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis.

5. Managers don’t have time to do fancy root cause analysis and they already know what is wrong.

Once again, I’m reminding of a saying:

Why is there never enough time to do it right,
but there is always enough time to do it over? 

How many times have I seen managers misdiagnose problems because they didn’t find the root causes and then have bigger accidents because they didn’t fix the near-misses and small accidents?

The percentage of managers trained in the causes of human error is very similar to the statistics I previously provided (2%). This means that managers need an effective root cause analysis technique … just like investigators need an effective technique. That’s why the standard corrective actions they use don’t solve the problems and we have accidents that happen over and over again.

So if you don’t have time, don’t worry. You will make time to do it over and over again.

That reminds me of a quote from a plant manager I knew…

“If we investigated every incident, we’d do nothing but investigate incidents!”

6. You can apply those complicated techniques to just the most serious accidents.

I’ve seen companies saving their “best” root cause analysis for their big accidents. Here are the two problems I see with that.

FIRST, they have the big accidents BECAUSE they didn’t solve the precursor incidents. Why? because they didn’t do good root cause analysis on the precursor incidents. Thus, applying poor root cause analysis to the lessor incidents CAUSES the big accidents.

SECOND, their investigators don’t get practice using their “best” root cause analysis techniques because the “most serious” incidents are infrequent. Therefore, their investigators get rusty or they never really develop the skills they need by using the techniques on smaller incidents that could give them practice.

The key here is to learn to use TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis to investigate smaller problems. And that’s why we wrote a book about using TapRooT® for simple incidents: Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incidents.

Don’t wait for big accidents to find and fix the causes of your biggest risks. Find and fix them when they give you warnings (the precursor incidents).

7. The data from the simple investigations will help you identify the more complex issues you need to solve.

Why do people think that analyzing lots of bad data will yield good results? I think it is the misconception about mathematics. A good formula doesn’t provide knowledge from bad data.

If you don’t really know how to analyze data, you should attend our pre-Summit course:

Advanced Trending Techniques

As W. Edwards Deming said:

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

And if you know much about Deming, you know that he was very interested in the accuracy of the data.

If you aren’t finding the real root causes, data about your BAD ANALYSIS only tells you what you were doing wrong. You now have data about what was NOT the causes of your problems. Go analyze that!

So data from BAD simple investigations DOES NOT help you solve your more complex issues. All it does is mislead your management.

THAT’S IT. All the bad advice debunked. Now, what do you need to do?

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1. Read the book:

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Leadership Lessons

You will learn the theory behind performance improvement and you will be well on your way to understanding what management needs to do to really improve safety, quality, equipment reliability, and operational/financial performance.

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2. Read the book:

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Implementation

You will know how to implement a real, effective root cause analysis system for low-to-medium risk incidents as well as major accidents.

3. If you haven’t done it already, attend one of our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Courses. See the list of our upcoming public 5-Day TapRooT® Courses held around the world at this link:

http://www.taproot.com/store/5-Day-Courses/

And don’t take any more bad advice from experts who don’t know what they are talking about!

PS: If you have questions or want to discuss what you read in the books, contact me (Mark Paradies) at 865-539-2139 or by e-mail by clicking HERE.

Interviewing & Evidence Collection Tip: How to Handle an Inconsistent Statement

October 26th, 2017 by

 

 

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Not every inconsistent statement is meant to deceive.

 

A new investigator may believe that if an interviewee is telling the truth, he will be consistent in his recollection of an event every single time. However, not every inconsistent statement made by an interviewee is made to intentionally deceive.

In fact, most interviewees want to be helpful. Further, an inconsistent statement may be as accurate or even more accurate than consistent claims. That is, an account repeated three times with perfect consistency may be more of a red flag to dig deeper.

The two most important things to think about when evaluating inconsistencies are the passage of time between the incident and its recollection, and the significance of the event to the interviewee. Passage of time makes memory a bit foggy, and items stored in memory that become foggy the quickest are things that we don’t deem significant, like what we ate for lunch last Wednesday. That being said, we still have to be on the lookout for possible fallacies and know how to test them.

There are four ways to decrease the possibility of innocent inconsistent statements during the interviewing process.

  1. Encourage the interviewee to report events that come to mind that are not related or are trivial. In this way, you discourage an interviewee trying to please you by forcing the pieces to fit. They do not know about all the evidence that has been collected, and may believe that something is not related when it truly is.
  2. Tell the interviewee, explicitly, not to try to make-up anything he or she is unsure of simply to prove an answer. If they don’t know, simply request they say, “I don’t know.” This will help them relax.
  3. Do not give feedback after any statement like “good” or “right.” This will only encourage the interviewee to give more statements that you think are “good” or “right”– and may even influence them to believe that some things occurred that really didn’t.
  4. Ask the interviewee to tell the story of what happened from finish to start instead of start to finish. If the interviewee is intentionally trying to cover something up, he or she will have a hard time remembering the same order to the story he or she recited the first time because the interviewee will have a greater cognitive load to bear telling the story in reverse order.

We have plans to go over many more details on how to conduct a good interview at the 2018 Global TapRooT® Summit. Join us for TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills February 26 and 27. Learn more.

How Good is Your TapRooT® Implementation?

October 24th, 2017 by

TapRooT® provides world-class root cause analysis. But did you know that your results can vary depending upon the goodness of your implementation of the TapRooT® System?

What causes the implementation to vary? Try these factors …

  • Need to improve clearly defined.
  • Senior management support achieved.
  • Written program plan approved by senior management.
  • Proactive improvements drive improvement success.
  • Use advanced root cause analysis for both reactive and proactive investigations.
  • Improvement accomplishments being communicated successfully.
  • Adequate budget/staffing for the improvement organization.
  • Training plan implemented.
  • Employees, supervisors, managers, and contractors/suppliers willingly participate in the program.
  • Software selected, customized, and implemented.
  • Performance measures and advanced trending techniques used by management to guide the program.
  • Organizational learning occurring by effective sharing of lessons learned.
  • Plan for continuous improvement of the program is followed.
  • Leadership succession plan established.
  • Rewards program being used effectively.

This list is provided as a checklist and explained in more detail in Chapter 3 of our new book:

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Implementation – Changing the Way Your Company Solves Problems

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CLICK HERE to order your copy.

One more idea you might want to pursue to improve your performance improvement program. Attend the 2018 TapRooT® Global Summit in Knoxville, TN, on February 26 – March 2! It’s a great place to keep up with the state of the art in performance improvement and network with industry leaders.

Start by attending one of our advanced courses on Monday & Tuesday:

  • TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training
  • Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting and Root Cause Analysis
  • Advanced Causal Factor Development Course
  • Advanced Trending Techniques
  • TapRooT® Analyzing and Fixing Safety Culture Issues
  • Risk Assessment and Management Best Practices
  • Getting the Most from Your TapRooT® VI Software
  • TapRooT® for AuditsTapRooT®
  • Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills
  • Understanding and Stopping Human Error

Then attend the Summit on Wednesday – Friday.

What’s on the agenda for the 2018 Global TapRooT® Summit? First, there are five keynote speakers:

  • Inquois “Inky” Johnson – Honor and Legacy
  • Vincent Ivan Phillips – How to Communicate Successfully
  • Dr. Carol Gunn – When Failure Becomes Personal
  • Mark Paradies – How Good is Your TapRooT® Implementation?
  • Mike Williams – Deepwater Horizon

Then there are nine different tracks that include 8 breakout sessions each. These tracks include:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Human Factors
  • Asset Optimization
  • Investigator
  • Patient Safety
  • TapRooT® Software
  • TapRooT® Instructor Recertification
  • Alternatives

See the Summit schedule at: http://www.taproot.com/taproot-summit/summit-schedule.

Root Cause Tip Warning: Do not define the impact level of your incident too low or too high

October 19th, 2017 by

 

When defining the Incident during a TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis and its impact to the business (the scope of your investigation), I often hear this statement…

“If we focus on the delay of correcting the problem, then less importance will be placed on what caused the problem.”

Take the scenario of a fire pump failing to turn on during a fire response test. The team originally wanted to focus on the pump failure only. Not a bad idea however, the pump could not be repaired for 2 weeks because of a spare part shortage. I pushed the team to raise the scope and impact of the investigation to Automatic Fire Suppression System out of service for 14 days.

Now this elevation of the incident does not lessen the focus on the pump failure, it does the opposite. A system down for 2 weeks elevates the focus on the pump failure because of impact and also allows the team to analyze why we did not have access to spare pump in a timely manner.

A caution also must be mentioned in that elevating the impact of an incident too high can cause a regulating agency to get involved or/and additional resources to be spent when not required.

Which problem is worse? Elevating a problem too high or not high enough? Your thoughts?

How Many Industries and How Many Countries is Your Root Cause Analysis System Used In?

October 17th, 2017 by

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I was talking to someone in the medical industry recently and they asked: “How many people in the medical industry use TapRooT®?”

I gave them several examples of major healthcare systems that use TapRooT® (including perhaps the world’s largest) but I thought … they asked the WRONG question.

The true value of a root cause analysis system is how many different places it is being used SUCCESSFULLY.

Note that this is not the same as if the system is used in a particular industry. It must be used successfully. And if it is used successfully in many other industries and many countries, that proves even more that the system is useful and will probably be useful when applied at your company.

Where is TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis applied successfully?

All over the world. On every continent but Antartica (we’ve never done a course there yet).

In what kind of industries? Try these:

  • Oil & Gas Exploration & Production
  • Refining
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Healthcare (Hospitals)
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
  • Nuclear Power / Nuclear Fuels
  • Utilities
  • Auto Manufacturing
  • Aggregates
  • Mining (Iron, Gold, Diamonds, Copper, Coal, …)
  • Aluminum
  • Aviation (airlines and helicopters)
  • Shipping
  • Cosmetics
  • Construction
  • Data Security
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Research Laboratories
  • Mass Transit
  • Regulatory Agencies
  • Prisons
  • Pulp & Paper
  • Engineering
  • Food & Drinks
  • Alchohol
  • Security
  • Recycling
  • Aerospace Manufacturing
  • Space Exploration
  • Pipelines
  • Agricultural Commodities
  • Steel
  • Forestry
  • City Government
  • General Manufacturing
  • Telecommunications
  • Airport Management

And that’s only a partial list.

Where can you read about the successful application of TapRooT® in some of these industries? Try these success stories:

http://www.taproot.com/archives/category/success-stories?s=

You will see examples of companies that saved lives, save money, prevent injuries, improved service, made work more productive, and stopped the cycle of blame and punishment.

The reason that TapRooT® is used by industry leaders is that it works in such a wide variety of industries in such a wide variety of countries.

But don’t just believe the industry leaders. Attend one of our GUARANTEED courses. Guaranteed? That’s right. Here is our guarantee:

  • Attend the course. Go back to work, and use what you have learned to analyze accidents, incidents, near-misses, equipment failures, operating issues, or quality problems. If you don’t find root causes that you previously would have overlooked and if you and your management don’t agree that the corrective actions that you recommend are much more effective, just return your course materials and we will refund the entire course fee.

It’s that simple. Try to find a money-back guarantee like that anywhere else. We are so sure of your success that we guarantee it.

Don’t wait. Register for one of our root cause analysis courses today. For a list of upcoming public courses, see:

http://www.taproot.com/store/Courses/

Why do people jump to conclusions?

October 10th, 2017 by

I see examples of people jumping to conclusions all the time. Instead of taking the time to analyze a problem, they suggest their favorite corrective action.

Why do they do this? I think it is because thinking is so hard. As Henry Ford said:

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

Did you know that when you think hard, your brain burns more calories? After a day of hard thinking you may feel physically exhausted.

Neuroscientific research at Cal Tech has shown that the more uncertainty there is in a problem (a cause and effect relationship), the more likely a person is to use “one-shot” learning (jumping to conclusions). This simplification saves us lots of work.

What’s the problem with jumping to conclusions?

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And even more important than saving effort in the analysis is that if you jump to a conclusion, you get to recommend the corrective action that you wanted to implement all along. Skip all that hard work of proving what the cause was and the details of developing effective fixes. Just do what you wanted to do before the problem ever happened!

The next time you are tempted to jump to a conclusion … THINK!

Yes, real root cause analysis and developing effective fixes is harder than just implementing the fix that you have been wanting to try even before the accident, but getting to the root (or roots) of the problem and really improving performance is worth the hard work of thinking.

Interviewing & Evidence Collection Tip: Get More Out of Interviews

October 5th, 2017 by

Where can you find a good portion of information to complete your SnapCharT®? Interviews! And how do we obtain interviews? People!

Why do we often forget that we are collecting information from human beings? Remember that an accident investigation may be a stressful event for everyone involved. There may be serious injuries and worries about the repercussions of participating in interviews or worries about whatever discipline the employer may impose in a blame culture.

Throughout the process, treat everyone with sensitivity:

  • Be ready for the interview.
  • Greet the interviewee by name, a firm handshake and a smile.
  • Break the ice by initiating a brief conversation not related to the incident. Put the interviewee at ease by listening to their contributions to the conversation without interruption.
  • Explain the interview process so they know what to expect.
  • Make it a practice to review the notes with the interviewee at the end of the interview. Let them know you will be doing that after explaining the process. They will feel more at ease if they have the opportunity to make any clarifications necessary.

Consideration for people’s fears goes a long way toward earning buy-in and confidence in the process.

What other things do you do to help an interviewee feel comfortable with the interview process? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Root Cause Tip: Courage

October 4th, 2017 by

Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house.  The real tests of courage are much quieter.  They are inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood. ~ Charles Swindoll

Investigating accidents, incidents, sentinel events, equipment failures, and quality issues requires courage.  Courage to challenge the way work is performed.  Courage to ask questions that people hope won’t be asked.  Courage to point out ways that management can improve the way the facility is managed.

Remember, when you think you face the challenge of confronting people and influencing them to change … courageously look for a different path.

Instead of forcing your views, find a way to make yourself an ally of those you think must change.  Your objective is to create an environment where you have an opportunity to share your vision and create enthusiasm for it.  As an ally, you learn how they view the problem in greater detail.  You may even discover some of your assumptions were wrong.  As an ally, they are more open to receive your ideas.  When you are work as a team – rather than adversaries – the chances of success are much higher.

Root Cause Audits Prevent Environmental Excursions

September 27th, 2017 by

All too often we hear stories about sewage spills and overflows, causing environmental damage and costing utilities and operators large fines. Sometimes the causes are catastrophic, like hurricanes. Unfortunately most of the time the reason is human performance and equipment malfunctions.

King County in Washington state recently had to pay a $361,000 fine for spilling 235 M gallons of sewage into the Puget sound. An investigation found the causes to be inadequate maintenance, reliability issues and lack of backup equipment. There was also a lack of employee training. Besides the fine, the county has to better monitor emergency bypasses, improve the reliability of equipment and upgrade alarm features in the plant control system.

A closer look reveals an inexpensive float switch was at the core of the issue. In the past this type of switch has repeatedly clogged, jammed and failed. To keep operations going, employees would bend the rod back in place instead of replacing it. All in all direct plant damage is $35M. This is the fourth environmental excursion since 2000, a cost which is not quantified, but large.

Another example is a recent 830,000 gallon sewage release into the Grand River in Ottawa County, Michigan, due to a power outage. Six months ago a broken 45 year old pipe caused a 2 M gallon spill at the same location. Replacement cost of the pipe is $5 M, funds are not available so the utility is patching and hoping for the best.

These are just two recent cases that would have benefited from doing a root cause audit. The methodology is similar to a root cause analysis, except of course it is done before any incident, and aims to find and fix the most impactful risks.

Steps in a root cause audit

Planning for and doing an audit typically follows the following pattern:

  1. Plan the audit, determine the process flow of problems that could turn into significant issues
  2. Perform the audit and record the findings
  3. Define the significant issues (similar to causal factors in a root cause analysis)
  4. Use the Root Cause Tree to analyze each significant issue
  5. Analyze any generic causes for each root cause
  6. Develop preventive fixes
  7. Get approvals, and implement the plan

When done, take a moment to recognize the people that helped, and do not forget to celebrate! To make things easier, it is worthwhile to learn from those that came before you!

We have long experience with investigations and corrective actions that work. A new book by Paradies, Unger & Janney “TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis for Audits and Proactive Performance Improvement” has practical check lists and advice on auditing and implementing corrective action. Read more and order your personal copy here: http://www.taproot.com/store/TapRooT-and-reg-for-Audits-Book-Set.html

Per Ohstrom is Vice President of Sales at System Improvements, Inc. #TapRooT_RCA

Generic Cause Analysis of the Navy’s Ship Collision/Grounding Problems

September 26th, 2017 by

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First, let me state that the reason I seem to be carried away by the failures of the Navy to implement good root cause analysis is that I spent seven years in the Navy and have compassion for the officers and sailors that are being asked to do so much. Our sailors and officers at sea are being asked to do more than we should ask them to do. The recent fatalities are proof of this and are completely avoidable. The Navy’s response so far has been inadequate at best.

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What should the Navy being doing? A thorough, advanced root cause analysis and generic cause analysis of the collisions and grounding in the 7th Fleet. And if you know me, you know that I think they should be using TapRooT® to do this.

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In TapRooT®, once you complete the analysis of the specific causes of a particular accident/incident, the next step is to identify the Generic Causes of the problems that caused that particular incident. Generic Causes are:

Generic Cause

The systemic cause that allows a root cause to exist.
Fixing the Generic Cause eliminates whole classes of specific root causes.

The normal process for finding generic causes is to look at each specific root cause that you have identified using the Root Cause Tree® and see if there is a generic causes using a three step process. The three steps are:

  1. Review the “Ideas for Generic Problems” section of the Corrective Action Helper® Guide for the root causes you have identified.
  2. Ask: “Does the same problem exist in more places?
  3. Ask: “What in the system is causing this Generic Cause to exist?”

It is helpful to have a database of thoroughly investigated previous problems when answering these question.

TapRooT® Users know about the Root Cause Tree® and the Corrective Action Helper® Guide and how to use them to perform advanced root cause analysis and develop effective corrective actions. If you haven’t been trained to use the TapRooT® System, I would recommend attending the 5-Day Advanced TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training or reading the TapRooT® Essentials & Major Investigations Books.

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Unfortunately, we don’t have all the data from the recent and perhaps still incomplete Navy investigations to perform a TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis. What do we have? The press releases and news coverage of the accidents. From that information we can get a hint at the generic causes for these accidents.

Before I list the generic causes we are guessing at and discuss potential fixes, here is a disclaimer. BEFORE I would guarantee that these generic causes are accurate and that these corrective actions would be effective, I would need to perform an in-depth investigation and root cause analysis of the recent accidents and then determine the generic causes. Since that is not possible (the Navy is not a TapRooT® User), the following is just a guess based on my experience…

GENERIC CAUSES

1. INADEQUATE NUMBER OF SHIPS FOR THE USA FOREIGN POLICY COMMITMENTS

2. INADEQUATE STAFFING OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

3. INADEQUATE TRAINING OF THE CREWS OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

4. INADEQUATE WATCH SCHEDULES AND PRIORITIZATION OF TASKS FOR UNDERWAY REQUIREMENTS

5. INAEQUATE CREW TEAMWORK AND CREW TEAMWORK TRAINING

Some of these problems should be fairly easy to fix in six months to two years. Others will be difficult to fix and may take a decade if there is the will to invest in a capable fleet. All of the problems must be fixed to significantly reduce the risk of these types of accidents in the future. Without fixes, the blood of sailors killed in future collisions will be on the hands of current naval leadership.

POTENTIAL FIXES

5. INAEQUATE CREW TEAMWORK AND CREW TEAMWORK TRAINING

  • Establish a crew teamwork training class oriented toward surface ship bridge watch operations that can be accomplished while ships are in port.
  • Conduct the training for all ships on a prioritized basis.
  • Integrate the training into junior officer training courses and department head and perspective XO and CO training.
  • Conduct underway audits to verify the effectiveness of the training, perhaps during shipboard refresher training and/or by type command staffs.

4. INADEQUATE WATCH SCHEDULES AND PRIORITIZATION OF TASKS FOR UNDERWAY REQUIREMENTS

  • Develop a standard watch rotation schedule to minimize fatigue.
  • Review underway requirements and prioritize to allow for adequate rest.
  • Allow daytime sleeping to reduce fatigue.
  • Minimize noise during daytime sleeping hours to allow for rest.
  • Review underway drills and non-essential training that adds to fatigue. Schedule drills and training to allow for daytime sleeping hours.
  • Train junior officers, senior non-commissions officers, department heads, XOs, and COs in fatigue minimization strategies.
  • Implement a fatigue testing strategy for use to evaluate crew fatigue and numerically score fatigue to provide guidance for CO’s when fatigue is becoming excessive.

3. INADEQUATE TRAINING OF THE CREWS OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

This corrective action is difficult because a through training requirement analysis must be conducted prior to deciding on the specifics of the corrective actions listed here. However, we will once again guess at some of the requirements that need to be implemented that are not listed above.

a. SEAMANSHIP/SHIP DRIVING/STATION KEEPING

Driving a ship is a difficult challenge. Much harder than driving a car. In my controls and human factors class I learned that it was a 2nd or 3rd order control problem and these types of problems are very difficult for humans to solve. Thus ship drivers need lots of training and experience to be good. It seems the current training given and experience achieved are insufficient. Thus these ideas should be considered:

  • A seamanship training program be developed based on best human factors and training practices including performing a ship driving task analysis, using simulation training, models in an indoor ship basin, and developing shipboard games that can be played ashore or at sea to reinforce the ship handling lessons. These best practices and training tools can be built into the training programs suggested below.
  • Develop ship handing course for junior officers to complete before they arrive at their first ship to learn and practice common ship handling activities like man overboard, coming alongside (replenishment at sea), station keeping, maneuvering in restricted waters, contact tracking and avoidance in restricted waters.
  • Develop an advanced ship handing corse for department heads that refreshes/tests their ship handling skills and teaches them how to coach junior officers to develop their ship handling skills. This course should include simulator training and at sea ship handling practice including docking scenarios, anchoring, restricted waters, and collision avoidance.
  • Develop an advanced ship handling course for COs/XOs to refresh/test their ship handling skills and check their ability to coach junior officers ship handling skills. This course should include simulator training and at sea ship handling practice including docking scenarios, anchoring, restricted waters, and collision avoidance. The course should also include training on when the CO should be on the bridge and their duties when overseeing bridge operations in restricted waters including when to take control if the ship is in extremis (and practice of this skill).
  • Develop a simulator test for junior officers, department heads, XOs, and COs to test their ship handing and supervisory skills to be passed before reporting to a ship.
  • Develop bridge team training to be carried out onboard each ship to reinforce crew teamwork training.

b. NAVIGATION

  • Perform a task analysis of required navigation shipboard duties including new technology duties and duties if technology fails (without shipboard computerized aids).
  • Develop a navigation training program based on the task analysis for junior officers, department heads, XOs, and COs. This program should completed prior to shipboard tours and should include refresher training to be accomplished periodically while at sea.

c. ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS

  • Develop a department head leadership program to teach advanced root cause analysis for shipboard incidents.
  • Develop a junior officer root cause analysis course for simple (lower risk) problem analysis.
  • Develop a senior officer root cause analysis training program for XOs, COs, and line admiralty to teach advanced root cause analysis and review requirements when approving root cause analyses performed under their command. (Yes – the Navy does NOT know how to do this based on the current status of repeat incidents.)

2. INADEQUATE STAFFING OF THE SHIPS WE HAVE

  • Develop a senior officer (Captain and above) training program to teach when a CO or line responsible admiral should “push back” when given too demanding an operational schedule. This ability to say “no” should be based on testable, numerically measurable statistics. For example, shipboard fatigue testing, number of days at sea under certain levels of high operating tempo, number of days at sea without a port call, staffing levels in key jobs, …
  • Review undermanning and conduct a root cause analysis of the current problems being had at sea and develop an effective program to support at sea commands with trained personnel.

1. INADEQUATE NUMBER OF SHIPS FOR THE USA FOREIGN POLICY COMMITMENTS

  • Develop a numerically valid and researched guidance for the number of ships required to support deployed forces in the current operating tempo.
  • Use the guidance developed above to demonstrate to the President and Congress the need for additional warships.
  • Evaluate the current mothball fleet and decide how many ships can be rapidly returned to service to support the current operating tempo.
  • Review the mothballed nuclear cruiser and carrier fleet to see if ships can be refueled, updated, and returned to service to support current operating tempo and create a better nuclear surface fleet carrier path.
  • Establish a new ship building program to support a modern 400 ship Navy by 2030.
  • Establish a recruiting and retention program to ensure adequate staff for the increased surface fleet.

Note that these are just ideas based on a Generic Cause Analysis of press releases and news reports. Just a single afternoon was spent by one individual developing this outline. Because of the magnitude of this problem and the lives at stake, I would recommend a real TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis of at least the last four major accidents and a Generic Cause Analysis of those incidents before corrective actions are initiated.

Of course, the Navy is already initiating corrective actions that seem to put the burden of improvement on the Commanding Officers who don’t have additional resources to solve these problems. Perhaps the Navy can realize that inadequate root cause analysis can be determined by the observation of repeat accidents and learn to adopt and apply advanced root cause analysis and support it from the CNO to the Chiefs and Junior Officers throughout the fleet. Then senior Navy officials can stand up and request from Congress and the President the resources needed to keep our young men and women safe at sea.

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Kicking over rocks

September 20th, 2017 by

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to this week’s root cause analysis tips.

Today I would like to address an interesting question; what do I do with information about problems I encounter during my investigation that turn out to not have anything to do with the incident I am investigating?

When we are in the beginning stages of an investigation, we are gathering as much information as possible and compiling the information on our SnapCharT®. We then define causal factors, perform root cause analysis, and apply corrective actions. In the process of gathering information, we may “kick over some rocks” and you know what happens next……things start to pop out.

For example, you might be doing an investigation and during the document review, you find that training records are out of compliance. As you continue through the investigation, you might determine that training was not an issue for this incident. But should you ignore the non-compliance? You can’t.

That example is a compliance problem, so it is a no brainer, it has to be addressed. But what about process improvements? You might find some real problems with one of your processes but they may have nothing to do with the incident you are investigating. In my previous life this was one of my strengths, but it was also a curse at times, because it would create a lot of extra work! I would quickly solve the actual problems that caused the incident but end up with a two-year project over something that popped out from under the rocks. As professionals, you know what is important and you know what your resources are, so prioritize and solve some problems; I think you will find it is worth it.

So as you uncover things like this, make a list of them and address them after you have finished your investigation. Be careful not to get side-tracked, make sure you take care of the matters at hand first. After you have issued your investigation report you can work on the other things.

One best practice that one of our clients shared with me is that rather than making a list like I suggested, when they start pruning their SnapCharT®, they move the other issues they want to address to a separate page of the chart so they have it all in one place. I like that.

If you have been to one of our courses, you know that when we talk about proactive use of TapRooT®, we teach the concept of “significant issues,” the proactive equivalent of casual factors (in a reactive application). You can do root cause analysis of these significant issues you discover during an investigation just as you would those you find during an audit. If you want to look at an entire process, just map the process out and spot potential failure points, and perform root cause analysis on them.

Problem solving is a lot more fun than investigating incidents. And you never know, the problem you solve today might be the investigation you don’t have to do tommorrow!

Root Cause Tip: Are you stopping short of exploring Human Engineering on the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree®?

September 14th, 2017 by

 

When analyzing a Causal Factor for Human Performance Difficulty during a root cause analysis investigation, a few questions under the Individual Performance section of the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® will guide you to the basic cause category of Human Engineering. Hint: It would be great to have your Root Cause Tree® and Root Cause Tree® Dictionary handy for this discussion but it is not mandatory for learning to occur from this article.

Question 1: This question focuses on factors that can reduce human reliability and cause human errors. (Fitness of Worker performing a task)

Question 4: This question focuses on the human-machine interface that was needed to recognize conditions or problems and understand what was occurring. (Machine readouts and display feedback provided while performing a task)

Question 5: This question covers actual task performance. (Interaction while operating the equipment while performing a task)

Question 7: This question focuses on environmental factors that can degrade human performance. (Environment factors where the task is being performed)

Question 8: This question focuses on the ergonomics of the task performance. (Acute or repetitive issues and the physical impact on the person performing a task)

By now you should notice two key factors that must be identified before you can go any further in the root cause analysis of a particular Causal Factor for Human Engineering:

1. Who is the person that needed to perform the task successfully?

2. What is the task that needed to be performed successfully?

No shortcuts allowed in our TapRooT® process for these two factors. Doing so will prematurely cancel out your opportunity to explore Human Engineering in more investigative detail.

A third factor not listed yet is that you must Go Out And Look (GOAL) at where the task is being performed for questions 4, 5, 7 and 8. You cannot and should not answer the additional questions needed to evaluate the task from your desk. If you cannot get to the site and must ask the questions remotely, a person must be onsite to be your ears and eyes to GOAL.

A task can defined as an activity or piece of work which a person(s) must perform to accomplish with a successful end result. It can be a one action task or a sequence of actions to accomplish a system response. Examples….

• Press brake pedal with right foot to slow down car that you are driving
• Type words that create a sentence for others to read and comprehend
• Calculate launch equations that then get input into a computer that then guides a space capsule launch


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What would it take for a person to press a pedal with their right foot to slow down a vehicle?

• A pedal that can be reached and depressed
• A pedal that works as designed for the task
• Feedback from the car and environment to indicate that the car is slowing down at the right rate
• A person that can react in time with the right knowledge and ability to perform the slowing down task

How hard would it be to answer these questions from your desk with a reasonable amount of accuracy? Difficult at best, so don’t stop yourself from exploring Human Engineering because you did not identify the task, the equipment and the person.

Learn more about Human Engineering and TapRooT® tools like the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree in one of our upcoming 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Trainings:

October 2: Knoxville, Tennessee

October 16: Orlando, Florida

October 23: Bogota, Colombia (Spanish)

October 30: Reykjavik, Iceland

November 13: Brisbane, Australia

November 13: New Orleans

November 27: Johannesburg, South Africa

November 27: Monterrey, Mexico

November 27: Perth, Australia

Root Cause Analysis for the FDA

September 13th, 2017 by

RootCauseAnalysis

What does the FDA want when you perform a root cause analysis?

The answer is quite simple. They want you to find the real, fixable root causes of the problem and then fix them so they don’t happen again.

Even better, they would like you to audit/access your own processes and find and fix problems before they cause incidents.

And even better yet, they would like to arrive to perform a FDA 483 inspection and find no issues. Nothing. You have found and fixed any problems before they arrive because that’s the way you run your facility.

How can you be that good? You apply root cause analysis PROACTIVELY.

You don’t want to have to explain and fix problems found in a FDA 483 inspection or, worse yet, get a warning letter. You want to have manufacturing excellence.

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis can help you reactively find and fix the real root causes of problems or proactively improve performance to avoid having quality issues. Want to find out how? Attend one of our guaranteed root cause analysis courses. See:

http://www.taproot.com/courses

I’d suggest one of our public 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Courses to get started. Then have a course at your site to get everyone involved in improving performance.

Want more information before you sign up for a course? Contact us by CLICKING HERE.

The world’s most modern Navy struggles with outdated culture

September 6th, 2017 by

To students of safety and accident prevention, the recent collisions involving the guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) seem strange. How can this happen with top shelf modern warships, equipped with state-of-the-art electronics, radar and GPS? Hint: look for human performance issues, and a culture of blame and punishment.

These are tragic accidents, with unnecessary loss of lives. The Navy’s immediate response was a 24-hour “safety stand down,” and a 60-day review of surface fleet operations, training, and certification. Perhaps more significantly, the Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Aucoin was fired, due to a “loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

And this is where the problems start. To an outside observer, the Navy culture of “firing those responsible” seems very old fashioned. Not only do we waste money on repairing ship damage that should never have happened, we also voluntarily get rid of a large investment in recruiting and training with each officer let go.

A better answer is to analyze what happened in each case, find the root causes and put in place corrective actions to prevent the same accidents from happening again. The Navy investigation results are classified, but let me offer up two possible causes:

1. Guided missile destroyers are smaller, leaner and meaner than the conventional destroyers they replaced. They sail with a smaller crew and fewer officers. However, there is still the same amount of horizon to scan, so to say, so officers will have larger spans of responsibility and fewer opportunities to rest. Fatigue is a powerful influence on human performance.

2. The world is a dangerous place, and getting worse. A shrinking Navy is deployed on the same number of missions around the world, not allowing enough time in between for maintenance of ships and systems. Training and development of crews also suffers.

Our long experience in root cause analysis tells us that no matter how sophisticated systems or equipment are, they need maintenance to work properly. There is also always human factors involved. Human performance is fickle, and influenced by many factors such as fatigue, alertness, training, or layout of control panels. It is better to do a thorough RCA to identify causal factors and fix them, than to fire people up and down the chain of command and still have the same issues again later.

#TapRooT_RCA

Corrective Action Advice

September 6th, 2017 by

If you use TapRooT® to find the root causes of incidents, quality issues, hospital sentinel events, equipment failures, production issues, and cost overruns, you are way ahead of your competition that is just asking “Why” five times. But what should you do to stop repeat incidents when you fix the causes of your problems?

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1. Remove the Hazard and/or the Target.

If you have been to TapRooT® Training you know what a Hazard and a Target are. Did you realize that the most effective fix is to get rid of them (if you can).

If you can get rid of them, you still may want to fix the causes of the root causes you identify. However, is there is no Hazard, you can be pretty sure you won’t have that accident happen again.

2. Install a more reliable Safeguard.

Once again, if you have been to TapRooT® Training, you know what a Safeguard is.

To have your previous incident, all the Safeguards for that incident had to fail. These failed Safeguards were your Causal Factors.

Strengthening your failed Safeguards is what root cause analysis is all about. But how much stronger can you make a weak Safeguard?

Perhaps a better idea is to implement a strong Safeguard?

An example would be to replace several weak Human Action Safeguards with a strong Engineered Safeguard.

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3. Fix the root causes of the failed Safeguards.

Use your Corrective Action Helper® Guide/Software Module to develop effective fixes for the root causes of the failed Safeguards that you identified. The Corrective Action Helper® Guide is a great way to get new ideas to fix problems that you previously just couldn’t seem to fix.

4. Get your fixes implemented.

It is no use to develop fixes and put them in a database (the backlog) and never get them implemented. make sure that corrective actions get done!

TapRooT® featured on Worldwide Business with kathy ireland®

September 5th, 2017 by

Mark & Kathy discussing root cause analysis and human performance.

Watch the recorded television broadcast below.

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Authors

Angie ComerAngie Comer

Software

Barb CarrBarb Carr

Editorial Director

Chris ValleeChris Vallee

Human Factors

Dan VerlindeDan Verlinde

VP, Software

Dave JanneyDave Janney

Safety & Quality

Garrett BoydGarrett Boyd

Technical Support

Ken ReedKen Reed

VP, Equifactor®

Linda UngerLinda Unger

Co-Founder

Mark ParadiesMark Paradies

Creator of TapRooT®

Per OhstromPer Ohstrom

VP, Sales

Shaun BakerShaun Baker

Technical Support

Steve RaycraftSteve Raycraft

Technical Support

Susan Napier-SewellSusan Napier-Sewell

Marketing & Communications Strategist

Wayne BrownWayne Brown

Technical Support

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