Category: Root Cause Analysis Tips

How many precursor incidents did your site investigate last month? How many accidents did you prevent?

April 25th, 2018 by

A precursor incident is an incident that could have been worse. If another Safeguard had failed, if the sequence had been slightly different, or if your luck had been worse, the incident could have been a major accident, a fatality, or a significant injury. These incidents are sometimes called “hipo’s” (high potential incidents) or “potential SIFs” (Significant Injury of Fatality).

I’ve never talked to a senior manager that thought a major accident was acceptable. Most claim they are doing EVERYTHING possible to prevent them. But many senior managers don’t require advanced root cause analysis for precursor incidents. Incidents that didn’t have major consequences get classified as a low consequence events. People ask “Why?” five times and implement ineffective corrective actions. Sometimes these minor consequence (but high potential consequence incidents) don’t even get reported. Management is letting precursor incidents continue to occur until a major accident happens.

Perhaps this is why I have never seen a major accident that didn’t have precursor incidents. That’s right! There were multiple chances to identify what was wrong and fix it BEFORE a major accident.

That’s why I ask the question …

“How many precursor incidents did your site investigate last month?”

 If you are doing a good job identifying, investigating, and fixing precursor incidents, you should prevent major accidents.

Sometime it is hard to tell how many major accidents you prevented. But the lack of major accidents will keep your management out of jail, off the hot seat, and sleeping well at night.

Screen Shot 2018 04 18 at 2 08 58 PMKeep Your Managers Out of These Pictures

That’s why its is important to make sure that senior management knows about the importance of advanced root cause analysis (TapRooT®) and how it should be applied to precursor incidents to save lives, improve quality, and keep management out of trouble. You will find that the effort required to do a great investigation with effective corrective actions isn’t all that much more work than the poor investigation that doesn’t stop a future major accident.

Want to learn more about using TapRooT® to investigate precursor incidents? Attend one of our 2-Day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Courses. Or attend a 5-Day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Course Team Leader Course and learn to investigate precursor incidents and major accidents. Also consider training a group of people to investigate precursor incidents at a course at your site. Call us at 865-539-2139 or CLICK HERE to send us a message.

Are you ready for quality root cause analysis of a precursor incident?

April 17th, 2018 by

Many companies use TapRooT® to investigate major accidents. But investigating a major accident is like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

What should you be doing? Quality investigations of incidents that could have been major accidents. We call these precursor incidents. They could have been major accidents if something else had gone wrong, another safeguard had failed, or you were “unlucky” that day.

How do you do a quality investigation of a precursor incident? TapRooT® of course! See the Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incidents book.

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Or attend one of our TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Courses.

Evidence Collection: Two things every investigator should know about scene management

April 17th, 2018 by

You may not be part of scene management when an incident occurs at your facility but there are two things every investigator should know:

  1. Hazards that are present in the work area and how to handle them. It’s impossible to anticipate every accident that could happen but we can evaluate hazards that are present at our facilities that could affect employees and the community at large to structure a scene management plan.
  2. Priorities for evidence collection. The opportunity to collect evidence decreases over time. Here are a few things to keep in mind during, and immediately following, scene management.
    • Fragile evidence goes away.
    • Witnesses forget what they saw.
    • Environmental conditions change making it hard to understand why an incident occurred.
    • Clean-up and restart begins; thus, changing the scene from its original state.

Learn more by holding our 1-Day Effective Interviewing & Evidence Collection Training at your facility. It is a standalone course but also fits well with our 2-Day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training. Contact me for details: carr@taproot.com.

 

You’re invited to Facebook Live for Wednesday lunch

April 16th, 2018 by

We invite you to tune into TapRooT®’s Facebook Live every Wednesday. You’ll be joining TapRooT® professionals as we bring you a contemporary, workplace-relevant topic. Put a reminder on your calendar, in your phone, or stick a post-it on your forehead to watch TapRooT®’s Facebook Live this week for another terrific discussion and for news you can use. We look forward to being with you on Wednesdays!

Here’s how to connect with us for Wednesday’s Facebook Live:

Where? https://www.facebook.com/RCATapRooT/

When? Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Time? Noon Eastern | 11:00 a.m. Central | 10:00 a.m. Mountain | 9:00 a.m. Pacific

If you missed last week’s Facebook Live session with TapRooT® co-founder Mark Paradies and Barb Carr, editorial director at TapRooT®, as they discussed methodologies for root cause analysis in incident investigation, you can catch up on the discussion via the Vimeo below. You may want to peruse Mark’s article, Scientific Method and Root Cause Analysis, to supplement this significant learning experience. Feel free to comment or ask questions on our Facebook page.

The Scientific Method In Relation To Root Cause Analysis from TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis on Vimeo

NOTE: Be sure to save the date for the 2019 Global TapRooT® Summit: March 11-15, in the Houston, TX area (La Torretta Lake Resort)!

The Scientific Method In Relation To Root Cause Analysis

April 13th, 2018 by

Did you miss last week’s Facebook Live session with TapRooT® co-founder Mark Paradies and Barb Carr, editorial director at TapRooT®, as they discussed methodologies for root cause analysis in incident investigation? Here’s an opportunity to catch up on the discussion, as Mark and Barb distill the disciplines and factors that historically have been involved in solving complex problems. Also, peruse Mark’s article, Scientific Method and Root Cause Analysis, to supplement this significant learning experience. Feel free to comment or ask questions on our Facebook page.

The Scientific Method In Relation To Root Cause Analysis from TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis on Vimeo

Tune into TapRooT®’s Facebook Live every Wednesday. You’ll be joining TapRooT® professionals as we bring you a workplace-relevant topic. Put a reminder on your calendar or in your phone to watch TapRooT®’s Facebook Live this week for another terrific discussion and for news you can use. We look forward to being with you on Wednesdays!

Here’s the info you need to connect with us for our next Facebook Live:

Where? https://www.facebook.com/RCATapRooT/

When? Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Time? Noon Eastern | 11:00 a.m. Central | 10:00 a.m. Mountain | 9:00 a.m. Pacific

NOTE: Save the date for 2019 Global TapRooT® Summit: March 11-15, in the Houston, TX area (La Torretta Lake Resort)!

Where to Start When Finding Root Causes

April 11th, 2018 by

I had someone ask me the other day …

”Where do I start when finding root causes?”

To me, the answer was obvious. You need to understand what happened BEFORE you can understand why it happened.

That’s why the TapRooT® System starts by developing a SnapCharT® of what happened.

Here is a simple example.

Someone sprains their ankle while walking to their car in the parking lot.

What is the root cause.

You might think the obvious answer is …

“They didn’t have their eyes on path!”

But you are jumping to conclusions! You don’t know what happened. So start here…

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You are starting to develop the story of what happened. You keep working on the story until you have clearly defined Causal Factors …

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That’s a lot more information! It isn’t as simple as “eyes on path.”

Now you are ready to start identifying the root causes of each of the four Causal Factors.

So, that’s where you need to start to find root causes!

Scientific Method and Root Cause Analysis

April 4th, 2018 by

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I had someone tell me that the ONLY way to do root cause analysis was to use the scientific method. After all, this is the way that all real science is performed.

Being an engineer (rather than a scientist), I had a problem with this statement. After all, I had done or reviewed hundreds (maybe thousands?) of root cause analyses and I had never used the scientific method. Was I wrong? Is the scientific method really the only or best answer?

First, to answer this question, you have to define the scientific method. And that’s the first problem. Some say the scientific method was invented in the 17th century and was the reason that we progressed beyond the dark ages. Others claim that the terminology “scientific method” is a 20th-century invention. But, no matter when you think the scientific method was invented, there are a great variety of methods that call themselves “the scientific method.” (Google “scientific method” and see how many different models you can find. The one presented above is an example.)

So let’s just say the scientific method that the person was insisting was the ONLY way to perform a root cause analysis required the investigator to develop a hypothesis and then gather evidence to either prove or disprove the hypothesis. That’s commonly part of most methods that call themselves the scientific method.

What’s the problem with this hypothesis testing model? People don’t do it very well. There’s even a scientific term the problem that people have disproving their hypothesis. It’s called CONFIRMATION BIAS. You can Google the term and read for hours. But the short description of the problem is that when people develop a hypothesis that they believe in, they tend to gather evidence to prove what they believe and disregard evidence that is contrary to their hypothesis. This is a natural human tendency – think of it like breathing. You can tell someone not to breath, but they will breath anyway.

What did my friend say about this problem with the scientific method? That it could be overcome by teaching people that they had to disprove all other theories and also look for evidence to disproves their theory.

The second part of this answer is like telling people not to breath. But what about the first part of the solution? Could people develop competing theories and then disprove them to prove that there was only one way the accident could have occurred? Probably not.

The problem with developing all possible theories is that your knowledge is limited. And, of course, how long would it take if you did have unlimited knowledge to develop all possible theories and prove or disprove them?

The biggest problem that accident investigators face is limited knowledge.

We used to take a poll at the start of each root cause analysis class that we taught. We asked:

“How many of you have had any type of formal training
in human factors or why people make human errors?”

The answer was always less than 5%.

Then we asked:

“How many of you have been asked to investigate
incidents that included human errors?”

The answer was always close to 100%.

So how many of these investigators could hypothesize all the potential causes for a human error and how would they prove or disprove them?

That’s one simple reason why the scientific method is not the only way, or even a good way, to investigate incidents and accidents.

Need more persuading? Read these articles on the problems with the scientific method:

The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes The Scientific Method Obsolete

The Scientific Method is a Myth

What Flaws Exist Within the Scientific Method?

Is the Scientific Method Seriously Flawed?

What’s Wrong with the Scientific Method?

Problems with “The Scientific Method”

That’s just a small handful of the articles out there.

Let me assume that you didn’t read any of the articles. Therefore, I will provide one convincing example of what’s wrong with the scientific method.

Isaac Newton, one of the world’s greatest mathematicians, developed the universal law of gravity. Supposedly he did this using the scientific method. And it worked on apples and planets. The problem is, when atomic and subatomic matter was discovered, the “law” of gravity didn’t work. There were other forces that governed subatomic interactions.

Enter Albert Einstein and quantum physics. A whole new set of laws (or maybe you called them “theories”) that ruled the universe. These theories were proven by the scientific method. But what are we discovering now? Those theories aren’t “right” either. There are things in the universe that don’t behave the way that quantum physics would predict. Einstein was wrong!

So, if two of the smartest people around – Newton and Einstein – used the scientific method to develop answers that were wrong but that most everyone believed … what chance do you and I have to develop the right answer during our next incident investigation?

Now for the good news.

Being an engineer, I didn’t start with the scientific method when developing the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System. Instead, I took an engineering approach. But you don’t have to be an engineer (or a human factors expert) to use it to understand what caused an accident and what you can do to stop a future similar accident from happening.

Being an engineer, I had my fair share of classes in science. Physics, math, and chemistry are all part of an engineer’s basic training. But engineers learn to go beyond science to solve problems (and design things) using models that have limitations. A useful model can be properly applied by an engineer to design a building, an electrical transmission network, a smartphone, or a 747 without understanding the limitations of quantum mechanics.

Also, being an engineer I found that the best college course I ever had that helped me understand accidents wasn’t an engineering course. It was a course on basic human factors. A course that very few engineers take.

By combining the knowledge of high reliability systems that I gained in the Nuclear Navy with my knowledge of engineering and human factors, I developed a model that could be used by people without engineering and human factors training to understand what happened during an incident, how it happened, why it happened, and how it could be prevented from happening again. We have been refining this model (the TapRooT® System) for about thirty years – making it better and more usable – using the feedback from tens of thousands of users around the world. We have seen it applied in a wide variety of industries to effectively solve equipment and human performance issues to improve safety, quality, production, and equipment reliability. These are real world tests with real world success (see the Success Stories at this link).

So, the next time someone tells you that the ONLY way to investigate an incident is the scientific method, just smile and know that they may have been right in the 17th century, but there is a better way to do it today.

If you don’t know how to use the TapRooT® System to solve problems, perhaps you should attend one of our courses. There is a basic 2-Day Course and an advanced 5-Day Course. See the schedule for public courses HERE. Or CONTACT US about having a course at your site.

Active Listening Inventory

March 28th, 2018 by

Are you a good listener? No one is born that way. Listening is a learned skill and practice makes perfect. Read through the following inventory statements and check for areas where you can improve your skills.

1. I listen without interrupting or finishing another’s sentences.
2. I am comfortable with long pauses in conversation.
3. I don’t “tune-out.”
4. I avoid distractions when listening.
5. I respond appropriately when someone is talking to let them know I am listening.
6. I am patient.
7. When someone is speaking, I am listening and not thinking of my next question or comment.
8. I am aware of my non-verbal messages as well as those displayed by others.

Root Cause Analysis Audit Idea

March 22nd, 2018 by

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In the past couple of years has your company had a major accident?

If they did, did you check to see if there were previous smaller incidents that should have been learned from and if the corrective actions should have prevented the major accident?

I don’t think I have ever seen a major accident that didn’t have precursors that could have been learned from to improve performance. The failure to learn and improve is a problem that needs a solution.

In the TapRooT® root cause analysis of a major accident, the failure to fix pervious precursor incidents should get you to the root cause of “corrective action NI” if you failed to implement effective corrective actions from the previous investigations.

If this idea seems like a new idea at your facility, here is something that you might try. Go back to your last major accident. Review your database to look for similar precursor incidents. If there aren’t any, you have identified a problem. You aren’t getting good reporting of minor incidents with potential serious consequences.

If you find previous incidents, it’s time for an audit. Review the investigations to determine why the previous corrective actions weren’t effective. This should produce improvements to your root cause analysis processes, training, reviews, …

Don’t wait for the next big accident to improve your processes. You have all the data that you need to start improvements today!

Root Cause Tip: Luck Versus Being Consistent, Success and Failure Can Come From Both

March 14th, 2018 by

Every best practice can be a strength or a weakness. Even one phrase like “I will ____” can be self-defeating or uplifting. “I will succeed” versus “I will fail.” Both phrases set your compass for success or failure. Okay, so what does philosophy have to do with root cause analysis? Simple….

Practice safe behaviors, build and sustain safe and sustainable processes with good best practices, and success is measured by less injuries, less near-misses, and more efficient processes.

Practice unsafe behaviors, build unsafe but sustainable processes with poor best practices, and success is measured by more injuries, more near-misses, and wasteful business processes. Safety only happens by luck!

Guess what? In many cases, you can still be in compliance during audits but still meet the criteria of “unsafe but sustainable processes with poor best practices . . . measured by more injuries, more near-misses, and wasteful business processes.”

This is why Question Number 14 on the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® is so important.

Not every Causal Factor/Significant Issue that occurred during an incident or was found during an audit is due to a person just breaking a rule or taking shortcuts. In many cases, the employee was following the rules to the “T” when the action that the employee performed, got him/her hurt or got someone else hurt.

Take time to use the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree®, Root Cause Tree® Dictionary, and Corrective Action Helper® as designed to perform consistently with a successful purpose.

Want to learn more? Attend one of our public TapRooT® Courses or contact us to schedule an onsite course.

What does bad root cause analysis cost?

March 7th, 2018 by

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Have you ever thought about this question?

An obvious answer is $$$BILLIONS.

Let’s look at one example.

The BP Texas City refinery explosion was extensively investigated and the root cause analysis of BP was found to be wanting. But BP didn’t learn. They didn’t implement advanced root cause analysis and apply it across all their business units. They didn’t learn from smaller incidents in the offshore exploration organization. They didn’t prevent the BP Deepwater Horizon accident. What did the Deepwater Horizon accident cost BP? The last estimate I saw was $22 billion. The costs have probably grown since then.

I would argue that ALL major accidents are at least partially caused by bad root cause analysis and not learning from past experience.

EVERY industrial fatality could be prevented if we learned from smaller precursor incidents.

EVERY hospital sentinel event could be prevented (and that’s estimated at 200,000 fatalities per year in the US alone) if hospitals applied advanced root cause analysis and learned from patient safety incidents.

Why don’t companies and managers do better root cause analysis and develop effective fixes? A false sense of saving time and effort. They don’t want to invest in improvement until something really bad happens. They kid themselves that really bad things won’t happen because they haven’t happened yet. They can’t see that investing in the best root cause analysis training is something that leads to excellent performance and saving money.

Yet that is what we’ve proven time and again when clients have adopted advanced root cause analysis and paid attention to their performance improvement efforts.

The cost of the best root cause analysis training and performance improvement efforts are a drop in the bucket compared to any major accident. They are even cheap compared to repeat minor and medium risk incidents.

I’m not promising something for nothing. Excellent performance isn’t free. It takes work to learn from incidents, implement effective fixes, and stop major accidents. Then, when you stop having major accidents, you can be lulled into a false sense of security that causes you to cut back your efforts to achieve excellence.

If you want to learn advanced root cause analysis with a guaranteed training, attend of our upcoming public TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training courses.

Here is the course 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/software
and we will refund the entire course fee.

Don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish.” Learn about advanced root cause analysis and apply it to save lives, prevent environmental damage, improve equipment reliability, and achieve operating excellence.

Top 3 Reasons Corrective Actions Fail & What to Do About It

February 15th, 2018 by

Ken Reed and Benna Dortch discuss the three top reasons corrective actions fail and how to overcome them. Don’t miss this informative video! It is a 15 minute investment of time that will change the way you think about implementing fixes and improve performance at your facility.

Stop Assumptions in Their Tracks!

February 13th, 2018 by

Assumptions can cause investigators to reach unproven conclusions.

But investigators often make assumptions without even knowing that they were assuming.

So how do you stop assumptions in their tracks?

When you are drawing your SnapCharT®, you need to ask yourself …

How do I know that?

If you have two ways to verify an Event or a Condition, you probably have a FACT.

But if you have no ways to prove something … you have an assumption.

What if you only have one source of information? You have to evaluate the quality of the source.

What if one eye witness told you the information? Probably you should still consider it an assumption. Can you find physical evidence that provides a second source?

What if you just have one piece of physical evidence? You need to ask how certain you are that this piece of physical evidence can only have one meaning or one cause.

Dashed Boxes

Everything that can’t be proven to be a fact should be in a dashed box or dashed oval on your SnapCharT®. And on the boxes or ovals that you are certain about? List your evidence that proves they are facts.

Now you have stopped assumptions in their tracks!

Why You Should Use the TapRooT® Process for Smaller Investigations

February 7th, 2018 by

“If the hammer is your only tool, all of your problems will start looking like nails.”

Per Ohstrom shares how TapRooT® is used to investigate smaller incidents by demonstrating the methodology. Are you using the 5-Whys to investigate these types of incidents? The 5-Whys won’t take you beyond your own knowledge. Find out how TapRooT® will!

How to Make Incident Investigations Easier

January 31st, 2018 by

Ken Reed talks about the differences between an investigation for a low-to-moderate incident and a major incident. Find out how TapRooT® makes both types of investigation easier to manage.

Want to learn how to investigate a major/minor incident with all of the advanced tools? Sign up for an upcoming 5-day training!

Want to start with just the essential skills for performing a root cause analysis on a minor or major investigation? It’s a great place to start with a minor investment of time. Sign up for an upcoming 2-day training!

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Do you perform an incident investigation like you watch the news?

January 31st, 2018 by

If you are like me, you flip channels to see how each news station or news website reports the same issue of interest. Heck, I even look at how different countries discuss the same issue of interest. Take the “Deep Water Horizon Spill of 2010” or was it the “BP Oil Spill of 2010” or was it the “Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill of 2010”? It depends on where you were or what you watched when it was reported. At the end of the day we all often develop Bias Criteria of Trust… often without any true ability to determine which perspective is closer to the truth.

Now there are fancier terms of bias from confirmation bias to hindsight bias, but let’s take a look at some of our news source Bias Criteria of Trust.


So here is the question to stop and ask….. do you do the same thing when you start an investigation, perform root cause analysis or troubleshoot equipment? It is very easy to say YES! We tend to trust interviews and reports using the same criteria above before we actually have the evidence. We also tend to not trust interviews and reports purely because of who and where they came from, without evidence as well!

Knowing this…..

Stop the urge to not trust or to overly trust. Go Out And Look (GOAL) and collect the evidence.

Got your interest? Want to learn more? Feel free to contact me or any of our TapRooT® Instructors at info@taproot.com or call 865.539.2139.

Where Do You Get Ideas To Improve Root Cause Analysis?

4 Signs You Need to Improve Your Investigations

Where Do You Get Ideas To Improve Root Cause Analysis?

January 31st, 2018 by

When I was assigned the job of figuring out how to improve investigations and root cause analysis … I knew that we were NOT finding the causes of human errors. But where would I get ideas to help make things better? The year was 1985 and there wasn’t an easy place to start …

  • no internet
  • no e-mails with upcoming courses
  • no conferences on the topic (maybe one talk at a nuclear industry conference’s breakout session)

I knew that the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations was working on a system because they had tried to hire me to help create it.

So what did I do?

  • Started looking at the human factors research.
  • Networked with the folks I knew at our corporate headquarters, INPO, the University of Illinois, INEL, EPRI, and several utilities where I knew people.
  • Started trying to create a list of causes that encompassed the human factors research that I was familiar with.

This lead to a beginning system to find root causes that, eventually, led to the development of TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System.

It was a long road with many lessons learned.

In 1988, we started System Improvements to help people improve their root cause analysis systems. In 1990, we won a contract to help the US Nuclear Regulator Commission improve their analysis of human errors. In 1991 we started working with our first oil and chemical company (Chevron) to improve their root cause analysis as part of their efforts to improve process safety. From there our growth into all types of industries with incidents – incidents that need fixes to prevent recurrence based on the real root causes – has been … pretty dramatic.

In 1994 we held the first TapRooT® Summit (not named the Summit until sometime later). It had great speakers and 35 attendees. I cooked steaks for everyone as our closing session.

Mark Ed 2

 1996 Summit Keynote Speaker with Mark Paradies (left)

Why did we decide to have a summit to focus on root cause analysis and performance improvement? Because I thought that our clients needed it. They needed:

  • a place to learn the latest ways to improve human performance.
  • to network and share best practices they were testing and perfecting.
  • to hear about what we were doing to improve the TapRooT® System.
  • motivation to keep them at the “performance improvement grindstone.”

L M Astronaut

Linda Under and Mark Paradies with 1997 Astronaut Keynote Speaker

Little did I know that this first conference would turn into an annual event that had hundreds of attendees who are some of the smartest people improving industrial safety, quality, patient safety, process safety, asset optimization, and operational excellence from around the world.

Linda1988

Linda Unger with Summit attendee from South Korea in 1998

I would never have guessed that I would draw people from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, UK, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, New Zealand, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, Denmark, France, and many other countries (even the USA!) to hear what we thought others needed to learn to make their performance great.

Bestpractice

People sharing best practices at the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit

But it happened. And now, if someone asks:

“Where Do You Get Ideas To Improve Root Cause Analysis?”

The answer is … The Global TapRooT® Summit.

The next Summit is rapidly approaching. Where is it? It is being held in Knoxville, Tennessee, (our hometown) on February 26 – March 2.

Want to find out more about the 10 pre-Summit courses being held on February 26-27? CLICK HERE.

Want to find out more about the blockbuster talks being delivered by the Keynote Speakers? CLICK HERE.

Want to see a list of the Best Practice Presenters? CLICK HERE.

Want to see the schedules for all nine Summit Tracks? CLICK HERE.

But don’t spend too much time clicking. You need to REGISTER ASAP and get your hotel and travel plans finalized because you need to attend this Summit.

Watch this video to see what past Summit attendees have to say…

Why do people try to make root cause analysis so difficult?

January 17th, 2018 by

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I read a comment string on LinkedIn about root cause analysis. People made the concepts and techniques so hard to understand.

First, there was an argument over what is a root cause. One person argued that there was no such thing because EVERY cause had another deeper cause. Someone else argued that there wasn’t a root cause because most incidents had multiple causes. Someone else introduced the idea of root causes, contributing causes, causal factors, and initiating events. Someone else brought up the concept of latent causes and Swiss cheese.

If that wasn’t enough disagreement, another side argument started over what was an incident, and accident, a near-miss, and a significant incident. This lead to a discussion of what needed investigation and how good an investigation was good enough.

At SI, we too had discussions about these topics 30 years ago. However, in the TapRooT® System, these arguments are settled and the terminology is either settled or irrelevant.

Perhaps it is my engineering and Nuclear Navy training that lead me away from philosophical discussions and turned me toward practical solutions to problems.

Perhaps it was my human factors training that made it easy to see why people made mistakes and what we could do to prevent them.

Perhaps it is my ability to take complex subjects and make them understandable that lead to the development of a systematic, practical, repeatable system to find the root causes of problems – the TapRooT® System.

So, if you are tired of debate and just want a system that has been proven around the world to find and fix the root causes of safety, quality, equipment, and production issues, learn about TapRooT® and save lot’s of time by avoiding needless arguments.

CLICK HERE to find out more about our 2-Day and 5-Day TapRooT® Training.

CLICK HERE to see where our upcoming public TapRooT® Training is being held.

Or CLICK HERE to contact us about having a course at your site.

Why Should I get the New TapRooT® Books?

January 9th, 2018 by

When someone calls me for help with an investigation, I often ask them what color TapRooT® Book they have. Sometimes they want to know..

What difference does it make what color my book is?

The answer is that it let’s me know how long ago they took TapRooT® Training and what version of the TapRooT® System they are using.  It is always sad to see people struggling with an issue we solved by improving TapRoot® and they just don’t know about the improvement.

Over the almost three decades that we have been developing TapRooT®, we have made major improvements. If you are still using the system that came in three-ring binders, you are back in the 1996 version of the system.

You might think that NOBODY would be using that outdated a version of the system but someone sent me a review of TapRooT® that they read and … sure enough … the review was of the 1996 book. So to people still using the three-ring binders: Update your documentation to the newest version and you will be shocked.

If you have the green book, you are working from the 2000 revision. You are working from a system from the same millennia. Update to the new version and you will jump ahead 16 years.

If you have the thick black book, you are working from the 2008 version. You too will be pleasantly surprised by what we have learned in the last eight years and how we have improved the usefulness of the TapRooT® Books.

And what is the latest version? These books are also black but there are  smaller and there are eight of them (currently book five and eight are still in production).

What do these books look like and how are they an improvement over the older 2008 book?

BOOKS 3 & 4

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Above is the Investigation book set. It includes:

These are the books that cover using TapRooT® to find the root causes of everything from small/minor incidents to major accidents.

How are they an improvement over the older 2008 TapRooT® Book? Well … we took everything we have learned in the last eight years and used it to improve our documentation. And the first things we learned is … LESS IS MORE. That’s why we broke the books up into separate topics. You can just read what is applicable to what you are doing. But how specifically is the investigation set improved over the old book?

  • The set includes the latest Root Cause Tree® and Dictionary that make the system even better with improved definitions in the Dictionary and an new category (language) in the Communication Basic Cause Category.
  • The Essentials Book is a an easy read (only 100 pages long). It guides you through a new 5 step process that makes TapRooT® easy to use for simple investigations. This improves your simple investigations while saving time.
  • The Major Investigations Book explains the whole TapRooT® System and includes the traditional 7-Step Investigation Process. The book includes improved TapRooT® Techniques, detailed examples of each technique, and even better ideas to help you identify your Causal Factors before you start analyzing their root causes.
  • The set also references the latest TapRooT® Software (Version VI).

The ideas we have for improving low-to-medium risk investigations alone are worth buying the new set.

Book 3: Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incidents, is included in the 2-Day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training. The 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training include Book 4: Using TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis for Major Investigations, and Book 3.

But that’s just two (Books 3 & 4) of the new books. What else is there and what new information is in the other six books? Read on…

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BOOK 1

Until Book 1: TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Leadership Lessons was written, we really didn’t have a book that explained the concepts of TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis to management. Now we have produced a concept book that is just 70 pages long (think of it as a bedtime story for management). When management asks what they need to know about TapRooT®, Book 1 is the place to start.

Of course, we would like leaders to learn much more about a tool that should be in their leadership tool kit but Book 1 is a starting point to get management to understand the basis for TapRooT® and how it will help them improve safety, quality, productivity, and environmental compliance.

To learn more about this book, CLICK HERE, or order your copy at: http://www.taproot.com/store/TapRooT-R-Philosophy.html.

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BOOK 2

Book 2: TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Implementation, is for those in charge of an improvement program. It explains how TapRooT® can be used to improve an already existing program or part of a completely new improvement effort.

Making this a separate book (89 pages long) helps the right people get the right information to make their improvement program much more effective.

What’s in the book?

  • The “Just Do It!” method of getting started.
  • How to add TapRooT® Root Cause analysis to an existing 6 Sigma, Lean, 8-D, Process Safety, Behavior-Based Safety, or other improvement initiative.
  • Building a best-in-class improvement initiative.
  • A checklist to evaluate your improvement efforts.

If you are serious about improvement and in charge of a program to make improvement happen … this book is for you. Order it HERE.

Book 5

This book is close enough to finished that I can explain what you will find in it when it comes out. If you are interested in equipment troubleshooting and root cause analysis, this is the book for you.

Book 5: Using Equifactor® Troubleshooting Tools and TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis to Improve Equipment Reliability, explains how to use TapRooT® and Equifactor® to solve equipment problems. The new book explains the techniques and includes a paper version of the equipment troubleshooting tables from the TapRooT® VI Software all in one book. That makes this a much handier reference.

We expect this book to be available in the 1st half of 2018. Watch our newsletter for more information.

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Book 6

Book 6: TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis for Audits and Proactive Performance Improvement, explains how to build TapRooT® root cause analysis into your audits and proactive improvement efforts. It’s only 57 pages long and is a great compliment to books 3 and 4.

It describes the 7-step process for using TapRoot® in an audit and how to build TapRooT® techniques into your proactive improvement efforts.

When you order the book HERE, you will also get the latest:

  • TapRooT® Root Cause Tree®
  • TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® Dictionary
  • TapRooT® Corrective Action Helper® Guide

What’ new about book 6? It is the latest information about using TapRooT® to audit performance. It can be used for safety or quality audits. It’s a very fast read.

This book is included in the course materials for the pre-Summit TapRooT® for Audits Course.

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Book 7

Book 7: TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills, is all about information collection. We’ve never had a book specifically about this topic. In the past you had to find some of the information provided here buried in the steps of the old 2008 TapRooT® Book.

But this book is more than just a rehash of the information about interviewing and evidence collection. In  addition to information about planning your evidence collection, emergency response and scene management, and the TapRooT® investigation process, it includes:

  • The 3 P’s and an R of evidence collection. (People, Paper, Physical, and Recordings)
  • The TapRooT® 12-Step Interview Process (Cognitive Interviewing)
  • Decoding non verbal behavior
  • Building your investigation kit
  • An initial observation form
  • An interview preparation form
  • An evidence log
  • How to use Change Analysis and CHAP as part of an interview/evidence collection process

That’s a lot to pack into a 93 page book! Buy this book by CLICKING HERE.

Book 8

This book is also still in production but is also expected in the first half of 2018. Book 8: TapRooT® Performance Measures and Trending for Safety, Quality, and Business Management, explains the state-of-the-art in performance measurement and trending.

If you have ever wondered how you can prove that you have improved or if a “negative” trend is actually significant, this is the book for you.

In addition, the book explains what management should know about trends. This information can keep them from being misled by false trends and how to use trends to manage improvement initiative.

The math involved isn’t complicated, but it is beyond some of the common “trending” graphs that you may be using now.

This book is included in the pre-Summit Advanced Trending Techniques Course. Watch our newsletter for more information on when the book will be available.

KEEP UP TO DATE! If you don’t have the latest TapRooT® Books that apply to your work, order them today!

Root Cause Tip: Causal Factor Development

January 4th, 2018 by

Error, mistake, Causal factor

Human Error?

 

Hi, everyone.

I thought I’d do a quick discussion on some ideas to help you when developing Causal Factors on your SnapCharT®.

Let me start out by stressing the importance of using the definition of a Causal Factor (CF) when you are looking at your SnapCharT®. Remember, a Causal Factor is a mistake, error, or failure that, if corrected would have prevented the incident, or mitigated it’s consequences.  The most important part of the definition are the first few words:  mistake, error, or (equipment) failure.  As you are looking for CFs, you should be looking for human error or mistakes that led directly to the incident.  Remember, we aren’t blaming anyone.  However, it is important to realize that almost all incidents are “caused” by someone not doing what they were supposed to do, or doing something they shouldn’t.  This isn’t blame; this is just a recognition that humans make mistakes, and our root cause analysis must identify these mistakes in order to find the root causes of those mistakes.

With this definition in mind, let’s talk about what is NOT a CF.  Here are some examples:

  • “The operator did not follow the procedure.”  While this may seem like a CF, this did not lead directly to the incident.  We should ask ourselves, “What mistake was made because someone did not follow the procedure?”  Maybe, the operator did not open the correct valve.  Ah, that sounds like a mistake that, if it had not occurred, I probably would not have had the incident.  Therefore, “Operator did not open valve VO-1” is probably the CF.  Not following the procedure is just a problem that will go under this CF and describe the actual error.
  • “Pre-job brief did not cover pinch points.”  Again, we should ask ourselves, “What mistake was made because we did not cover pinch points in our pre-job brief?”  Maybe the answer is, “The iron worker put his hand on the end of the moving I-beam.”  Again, this is the mistake that led directly to the incident.  The pre-job brief will be a piece of information that describes why the iron worker put his hand in the pinch point.
  • “It was snowing outside.”  I see this type of problem mis-identified as a CF quite often.  Remember, a CF is a mistake, error, or equipment failure.  “Snowing” is not a mistake; it is just a fact.  The mistake that was made because it was snowing (“The employee slipped on the sidewalk”) might be the CF in this case, again with the snowy conditions listed under that CF as a relevant piece of data.

Hopefully, this makes it a little easier to identify what is and is not a CF.  Ask yourself, “Is my Causal Factor a mistake, and did that mistake lead directly to the incident?”  If not, you can then identify what actually lead to the incident.  This is your CF.

Want to learn more? Attend our 2-day Advanced Causal Factor Development course February 26 and 27, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee and plan to stay for the 2018 Global TapRooT® Summit, February 28 to March 2, 2018.

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

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