July 1, 2021 | Mark Paradies

Rising Standards Mean You Need Advanced Root Cause Analysis Now


Ever-Increasing Standards = Need for Advanced Root Cause Analysis

Have you noticed how standards keep increasing?

  • Regulators expect fewer accident releases of pollutants.
  • Management expects better performance at lower costs
  • Customers expect higher quality (or, perhaps, perfection)
  • Normal human errors aren’t allowed (human perfection)

We want it better, cheaper, faster, and with less hassle and more service included than ever before. Errors aren’t acceptable. Performance must be perfect!


  1. A refinery had a pipe failure that sprayed a mist of oil in the air and into the surrounding community. Thirty years ago this would have been a minor incident. Now the regulator might shut down the facility as an imminent risk.
  2. Higher-priced labor in the USA might have been accepted by management as a cost of doing business in the 1970s. Now labor costs are compared to Asia, India, or Eastern Europe. Or, worse yet, to the cost of automation. People might lose their jobs if productivity isn’t increased.
  3. A food contamination incident in the 1980s might have led to a recall and temporary removal of a product from the shelf. Now it results in a nationwide publicized recall, an FDA root cause analysis, facility shutdowns, loss of shelf space, negative publicity that will affect the company’s profitability for years to come, and in rare cases … criminal prosecution.

What Can You Do?

Are you facing constantly increasing expectations from your management, your customers, or your regulators? Then you might need to continuously improve performance. How can you get ahead and keep ahead? The answer is to apply advanced root cause analysis to reactively improve based on learning from major or minor incidents AND/OR to proactively improve based on a proactive continuous improvement program.

Reactive Improvement


Everybody knows about reactive improvement. If you have an accident, an incident, an operating upset, or other problem, you investigate the root cause (or root causes) and implement improvements.

What’s the problem with this approach?

  1. You are waiting for something bad to happen to learn how to improve.
  2. Many people apply “simple” root cause analysis techniques that really don’t work well (5-Whys, Cause-and-Effect, Fishbone Diagrams, Checklists). How can you tell these techniques don’t work well? Repeat incidents.
  3. The techniques used naturally lead to weak corrective actions like retraining, longer procedures, and discipline.
  4. The techniques don’t provide guidance to troubleshoot equipment problems or guide investigators to the causes of human error.

Responding to incidents is necessary. But to be effective, companies need better root cause analysis. Root Cause analysis that solves three of the four problems described above.

Proactive Improvement

The solution to the fourth problem (problem #1 above) is to become proactive. Great companies don’t wait for an accident to improve. They understand their risks and target the most serious risks with audits, assessments, observations, management walkarounds, and other continuous improvement initiatives to find and fix problems before accidents happen.

Also, they apply advanced root cause analysis to solve the problems they discover. This ensures effective corrective actions that stop repeat problems.

Advanced Root Cause Analysis

What is advanced root cause analysis?

First, it covers all the fundamentals of root cause analysis. Read about the fundamentals HERE. Below are Mark Paradies and Benna Hughes discussing the fundamentals of root cause analysis…

Advanced root cause analysis helps you understand what happened BEFORE you start asking why it happened.

Second, an advanced root cause analysis system understands that for most (all?) accidents/incidents/problems discovered by proactive improvement are caused by multiple causal factors. Each of these causal factors needs to be analyzed to find the causal factor’s root causes.

So, for each causal factor, you will find root causes. That means that there are almost always multiple root causes (NOT a single root cause).

Once you determine the root causes, an advanced root cause analysis system will help you go beyond root causes to find generic causes. Generic causes go beyond specific root causes to the system factors that allowed the root causes to exist.

Once you know the root causes and generic causes, you are ready to develop corrective actions. These aren’t just the common actions of retraining, disciple, and procedures. Advanced root cause analysis guides the investigation team to effective corrective actions.

Once you have the corrective actions approved by management (and your advanced root cause analysis system should help you get that approval), your corrective actions need to be tracked to see that they are implemented and effective.

Learning Advanced Root Cause Analysis


How can you learn an advanced root cause analysis system? Here is a link to information about the best, advanced root cause analysis system.

Register for Advanced Root Cause Analysis Training Today

If you are convinced that you need to keep your company’s performance ahead of the rapidly rising standards, you need advanced root cause analysis (the TapRooT® RCA System). The best way to learn the system is at our training. And the course that I would recommend for those that might investigate complex accidents and simple incidents is the 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Team Leader Training.

For more information about the 5-Day Training, CLICK HERE.

To see a list of our public 5-Day Courses being held around the world, CLICK HERE.

And to get a quote for a course at your site, CLICK HERE.

If you would like to talk to one of TapRooT® RCA Implementation Experts, call 865-539-2139.

Thanks for your interest in advanced root cause analysis and we hope to hear from you soon (BEFORE a major accident happens).

Software Course
Environmental, Equipment Reliability / Equifactor®, Implementation, Operational Excellence, Root Cause Analysis Tips
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