February 29, 2012 | Dave Janney

Root Cause Analysis Tips – Learning from Other Industries and Disciplines

I am writing to you this week from the amazing city of Las Vegas, where the Global TapRooT® Summit starts today.  On Monday and Tuesday, we held a number of pre-summit courses; they were well attended and a good time was had by all.  I would especially like to thank those who attended the course I taught, the Advanced TapRooT® Techniques course.

In the advanced course, we teach the best practices from our 7-Step Process; things we have picked up over the years from teaching, listening to clients, and watching current events.  A big focus of the advanced course, however, is causal factors.  We do a number of case studies where students get to define causal factors, and real-life cases really get people interested.  Teaching the course this week made me think about how interested people are to hear about situations from other industries; after all, people make mistakes for the same reasons (they are human!) and that is the power of TapRooT® – it is transferrable among industries and disciplines.  It does not matter if you are investigating a forklift accident in a warehouse or a quality problem in a hospital, you can still get answers from TapRooT®.  In the advanced course, our case studies range from traffic accidents to drug overdoses to explosions to fatal falls.  If you missed the advanced course this time, please be aware that we can teach the course onsite if you have 10 or more people, just let us know at info@taproot.com.  Click HERE for the agenda.

But back to the topic at hand – have you been in your industry for a long time?  Have you been at the same company or the same department a long time?  Have you always worked in the same discipline?  If so, you are at risk of acquiring tunnel vision and being restricted to the best practices only in your company, industry, or discipline.

I worked in the airline industry for 27 years.  I knew the business.  But the airline industry has high injury rates.  And by the way, my company had the lowest rates in the industry.  Everyone else wanted to benchmark me, but what could I learn from them?  Don’t get me wrong, I am sure I could learn something, but would I not be better off to benchmark a low rate industry rather than an airline?  The answer is obvious.  When my company became involved in VPP (OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program), I started being exposed to best practices from other industries, and was amazed at how much we could learn from others.

Another thing that happened to me at my company was the environmental department was merged with my department, corporate safety.  The environmental folks taught me a lot, and I taught them how to investigate their spills.  I also included them in my OSHA 10 hour classes.  It benefited everybody.

I could give many more examples, but you get the point.  Make a goal to look “outside your box” and benchmark another industry or discipline.  Go to a conference for a different industry or discipline.  You will be amazed at what you might learn.

By the way, one of the best places to meet people from other industries and disciplines is our summit, but you have missed this one.  But don’t worry, another one is just around the corner; stay tuned for details about the 2013 summit; they will be out soon!

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