June 16, 2010 | Barb Carr

Root Cause Analysis Tip: An ASQ discussion on Quality, Root Cause Tree, and the Ishikawa diagram (also called fishbone diagrams or cause-and-effect diagrams)

Dave Janney and I recently had a great opportunity personally talking one to one to over 450 plus ASQ (American Society for Quality) Members in St. Louis at the ASQ World Conference. There were 1,000 plus members present but I want to focus on the one on one discussions in this tip of the week.

Discussion Tip 1: “The TapRooT® Root Cause Tree is definitely more than a Fish-Bone and 5-Why tool!”

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A Director of Quality walked up to our booth and looked at the back of our Root Cause Tree. Seeing some of the Basic Cause Categories such as: Human Engineering, Management System, Training, Work Direction……. He stated, “that looks a little like the Categories on the Ishikawa Diagram, what is the difference? Why would I as an expert need to use it?”

So I put him through the test and covered up the multiple research and industry based Root Causes under our Basic Cause Category of Human Engineering. Then calling this the “Man/Person” section of the Diagram I asked, ” with your expert knowledge with man/person in quality, what human engineering questions would you ask?”

He stopped and realized that this was not his area of expertise. We have 7 areas of expertise to help you analyze your problems… In simpler form, you as the quality director have 7 more experts sitting next to you that are usually not present when developing your Ishikawa diagram.

Also remember, it is not how many questions you ask! What you ask and how you ask it is what will give you an effective Root Cause Analysis.

Discussion Tip 2: “I already have a list of common Root Causes developed by ABC Inc., why get a new process?”

This question came from a Tier 1 Supply Quality Leader. So my first question was, “which category do you see selected most often during a Root Cause Analysis?” His response, “depends on which department lead the investigation.”

Caution of the day, if the investigator is steering the analysis then you have a Root Cause Tool that allows bias instead of facts to run the investigation. The analogy is like telling your inspectors to measure the dimensions of a cube. Each person selects their favorite measuring device and goes at it. Just do not expect them to come up with identical end measurements.

Our TapRooT® process takes you through a standard/robust question process that needs facts to say yes to or no to and not opinions. It is this true and tried process (20 years in use) that allows the Quality Inspectors to remain consistent.

Now don’t get me wrong, TapRooT® Root Cause does not replace the quantitative tools used by certified quality leaders. It does however improve the qualitative portions of your analysis.

Look for more Quality Tips and Articles to come…. there is just so much more to continuous improvement. Question? Comments?

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