September 1, 2010 | Barb Carr

Root Cause Analysis Tip: “Death by Data” also known as “Data Paralysis”

Understanding your process data, filtering the good from the bad and detecting when there are true problems coming to light should not be like hand-sorting grains of rice.

Yet I hear this question frequently, “We have a large database and we would like to ……..?”

When I ask what processes are being measured and what data are tied to the process’ outcome, the answers are often very vague if not delayed with a, “I will get back with you, good question.”

Now most of us our good at tracking outcomes (often because we are required by Regulations) like:

… number of defects

… costumer complaints

… OSHA recordables

… Sentinel Events

With tracking outcomes however, comes the data merging error that hides the fact that all rice does not come from the same fields and cannot always be included in the same analysis. For example:

… we had a wonderful month with lower injuries in July per assigned employees.

Problem: Cannot compare the number of employees assigned in July with the other months because we had a 2 week plant shutdown.

… we count all defect opportunities and perform frequent audits but the leading indicators do not seem to predict the change.

Problem: Not all audits are created equal. Often leading indicator metrics are too global and general. In other words, “just plain rice”. When you see indicators change but there is no correlation to your lagging output metrics, stop and Go Out And Look (GOAL) at the tasks being performed to identify the correct leading metrics.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when looking at wrong data collection thoughts. Just remember just because you collect lots of data does not mean this a good thing…. you just get more grains of salt to sift through.

Below are two presentations to dig a little deeper in this thought process.

Also, check out our metrics course being offered during our October Pre-Summit. It is the only this year it is offered as a public course:

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