June 3, 2009 | Dave Janney

Root Cause Analysis Tips

Happy Wednesday and welcome to this week’s Root Cause Analysis Tips column.

The topic this week is Step 7 of the TapRooT® 7 Step process, Report and Implement Corrective Actions.    

Before you can implement your corrective actions, many times you must gain approval.  If not, lucky you!  But if you do require approval (especially when $$ are involved), it’s important you make your case convincingly and concisely.  After all, your corrective actions are the output of your work. 

If you’ve been to a TapRooT® course, you’re familiar with our management presentation structure, but this should be a good refresher.  If you have not been to a course, here is our suggested format for a management presentation:

• Grab their attention – this should be in the form of a 1 liner, or two sentences at the most.  You want a concise statement that tells the audience what happened – the outcome and the impact to the organization.  In reality, you are trying to help them understand why they are there to listen to you!  If you don’t get their attention, the Blackberry goes off and before you know it, you’ve lost them.  In marketing circles, they call this one liner “the hook.”
• What happened – a SnapCharT® is the best way to do this.  You will want to trim unnecessary information from the chart before you present.  Your final chart should be 1-2 slides max.
• Visual Aids – pictures, diagrams, drawings, videos.  Any aid that will help them understand the incident works, and adds to the attractiveness and professionalism of the presentation.
• Corrective Action Matrix – this should include what will be done, who is going to do it, and timelines.  It should also tell the audience which corrective actions are going to fix which root causes.

This can be done in 4-8 slides, and can be presented in 5-10 minutes.   Remember, management is busy and you want to “get in and get out.”  The purpose of the meeting is to gain approval for what you have decided to do to fix the problems you have found.

Here are a few more important points:    

• You should also be able to show a return on investment to the organization.
• Gain approval from all corrective action stakeholders before the meeting (no surprises).
• Speak the language of your audience.
• Know the audience and what drives them and what their hot buttons are.
• Anticipate any potential pushback and address it upfront.
• Don’t get into discussions around the Root Cause Tree® with untrained people.  This is not an investigation meeting – you are the expert, you have done the analysis, and you have the answers! 

Once you have gained approval, you are ready to implement your corrective actions.  Make sure appropriate follow-up is done (implementation, verification, and validation) to ensure success. 

You’ll also likely be completing a report.  The TapRooT® software will help you do this.  You can pull the full report, technique reports, and corrective action reports.  You can also export the reports for easy e-mailing or to insert pictures and put your magic touch on the report.

I hope this information has been helpful.  Don’t forget – your corrective actions are the output of your work and the most important thing you do in the investigation process.  There is nothing more satisfying than finding and fixing problems, so happy investigating! 

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