May 13, 2005 |

How to pick a Root Cause System

Einstein Himself
You don’t need to be Albert Einstein to pick the right root cause analysis system. But you should heed Einstein’s warning:

“We can’t solve a significant problem using the same knowledge that created it.”

And this should be your first consideration in picking a root cause analysis system. Does it lead you beyond your current knowledge?

Many root cause tools do nothing more than display the knowledge you already have. They don’t lead you beyond your current knowledge. For example, Fault Trees, Why Trees, and Fishbone Diagrams do nothing more than display the cause and effect relationships that the investigator already understands.

The “cause and effect” technique was first created by Socrates. He proposed that if a person saw a cause produce an effect, the relationship could be remembered. If one saw the effect again, without seeing the cause, one could suppose that the same cause was producing the effect.

It took until the Middle Ages for philosophers to point out the flaw in Socrates’ logic. What if there were multiple causes that could produce the same effect? What if the observer only knew about one of the causes? They could assume that one cause was producing the effect when another cause they were unaware of was really causing the problem.

This type of flawed logic is one of the main mistakes that “expert” problem solvers fall into. They jump to conclusions and assume they know the answer. They say, “I’ve seen this before!” and then proceed to apply their favorite answer to their assumed problem.

Wow! Picking a root cause system really requires some careful thought. Otherwise you might end up with answers that really do NOT solve your problems.

To pick the right root cause analysis system you need to understand how to analyze problems, human capabilities and limitations in problem solving, and the capabilities that various systems have to help you meet your needs.

At System Improvements, we have spent over a decade researching problem solving, human capabilities and limitations in problem solving, and the wide variety of problem solving tools used around the world. We also looked at the problem people have finding root causes and investigating accidents and incidents.

What did we learn? First, we learned there are several common problems that people experience around the world. We have organized these into a “Top 10” list of problems faced by investigators. They are:

Top 10 Problems Preventing Good Investigations and Root Cause Analysis

1. Blame (fear)
2. Wrong Questions (analysis skill/root cause system)
3. No Time to Find Root Causes
4. Crisis Focus
5. Only Learn Reactively
6. Symptom Focus
7. Can’t See Outside the Box
8. Fix First – Understand Later
9. Don’t Look for Trends
10. No Rewards for Investigators

We then used this list of problems and our research into problem solving to develop a “Must Have” list for a good problem investigation / root cause analysis system.

1. Must be easy-to-use but not “too easy”.

2. Must lead investigator to fixable causes of human performance and equipment problems.

3. Must have imbedded expert knowledge.

4. Must be usable by regular people (not just PhDs/gurus).

5. Must be robust (gets good answers without perfect application).

6. Must be tested and produce proven success improving performance (a variety of industries, problem types, and user education is preferable).

7. Must be well documented.

8. Must have excellent training.

9. Must have database for organizing/sharing/trending data.

10. Must have unique categories for trending.

This “Must Have” list is what TapRooT® provides.

Why? Because we built TapRooT® to solve the problems that investigators face. We found the techniques that worked the best and then built techniques (like the Root Cause Tree®) when there weren’t any techniques that met our demanding requirements. And even the techniques that we borrowed were customized, simplified, and optimized to make TapRooT® the BEST root cause analysis and incident investigation system.

So to pick the root cause system for your facility, you could:

1. Spend years researching problem solving and human capabilities and limitations in problem solving.

2. Research hundreds of root cause analysis tools to discover their strengths and weaknesses.

3. Pick the best one or build your own custom tool.

4. Then spend a decade testing, evaluating, and improving your system.

Or you could just pick TapRooT® and take advantage of the work that we have already done.

So how can you evaluate our claims to know how well we have done in developing the best root cause analysis system? The best way is to attend one of our public 2-day or 5-day courses. We guarantee our training:

TapRooT® Training Guarantee

Attend one of our courses. Learn the TapRooT® System and apply it back at work. If you don’t find root causes that you previously would have overlooked and if you don’t develop corrective actions that both you and your management agree are much more effective, just return the course materials and we will refund 100% of the course fee. That’s how certain we are that you will see how powerful TapRooT® is finding root causes and solving problems.

For more information about TapRooT® root cause training, click here to see our current course schedule!

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