April 20, 2011 | Dave Janney

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Reports and Presentations

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to this week’s root cause analysis tips column.

The topic this week is effective reports and presentations.  This topic is covered in Appendix C.15 of the TapRooT® Book.  We also talk about presenting to management in our courses.

Report Tips

In C.15, Mark Paradies and Linda Unger outline the criteria for a good report:

  • The reason for the investigation is clear
  • The report clearly shows what happened
  • The report includes causal factors, root causes, and corrective actions
  • The report drives home the need to do the corrective actions

The first point, make sure the reason for the investigation is clear, may seem pretty straightforward, but it is not always that way.  Just the other day I read a report a prospective client sent me and it was 10 pages.  I read the whole thing but still did not know what the incident actually was.  In our courses we teach that agreeing on the incident (the purpose of the investigation) is the first step.  This defines the scope of the investigation.

The next point, clearly show what happened, is an easy one.  The best way to show what happened?  A SnapCharT®, of course!

Next, causal factors and root causes, pretty straightforward.

And last, but not least, are corrective actions.  This is the output of the report and the investigation itself.  Without a good output, the time spent investigating is essentially wasted time.  The people reading your report want this information first and foremost.  And you have to sell it – you may need resources, or you may need buy-in, but either way, you have to sell it.  Return on investment is one of the best ways to sell you corrective actions.

Presentation Tips

So far we have talked about reports, but what about presentations?  You need the same information, it is just packaged differently.  In our courses we teach this; you can usually present most incidents with 4-6 slides and in just 5-10 minutes.  In the beginning of the presentation, you want to grab the audience’s attention, or you will lose their interest fast.  Why do they want to listen to your presentation?  That is the information you need to give them right up front.  Costs, injuries, downtime, and other measures can be useful in grabbing their attention.  You then use your SnapChart® to explain what happened, present your corrective actions (which correlate to the causal factors and root causes), and you are done.  The key output?  Who will do what, by when, for how much, and how is it going to help us.

My parting shot is to say that it does not matter how good your investigation is if you can’t sell your corrective actions to management and other stakeholders.

So thanks for visiting the blog and I hope these tips help with your next report and presentation.

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