March 9, 2011 | Ken Reed

Root Cause Tip: Speeding up the Investigation Process – Root Cause Tree®

So far, we’ve discussed several ideas to help make your investigations more efficient and quicker.  We’ve talked about being well-prepared before you start any investigation, and then using the SnapCharT® to help you more quickly and accurately gather information.  Today, I’d like to show you how you can save a lot of time by using another TapRooT® tool:  Root Cause Tree®.

The Root Cause Tree® (RCT) is the main tool used in Step 4 (Root Causes Analysis) of your investigation process.  I think everyone understands how using the RCT is the best method of finding accurate, repeatable, unbiased root causes.  No other system contains the human performance expertise that is provided on both the front and the back of the tree.  The actual root cause analysis is the easy part of the process.  If you are proficient using TapRooT®, you can find root causes in only a few minutes per Causal Factor.

However, why limit your use of this expertise only to Step 4?  Why wait until you gather as much information as you can on your own, when you can use that same expertise early in the process?  If you look at the 7-Step TapRooT® Process, you’ll notice that Step 1 lists the Root Cause Tree® as one of the tools available while building your Spring SnapCharT®.  How can you use this tool all the way back in Step 1?

When you start using the RCT in Step 4, you start systematically working your way down the front of the Tree®, using the Dictionary® and the evidence on your SnapCharT® to determine which questions to answer “Yes” and which questions to answer “No.”  For example, the first question in the 15 Questions is, “Was a person excessively fatigued, impaired, upset, bored, distracted, or overwhelmed?”  What if, while building your SnapCharT® and deciding which questions to ask during interviews, you forgot to ask if the employee was fatigued?  Luckily, Step 4 will force the investigator to go back into his investigation and check this out.  However, why wait until Step 4 to remember this?  You know when you get to Step 4, you will have to answer the questions on the RCT.  Why not use the RCT all the way up in Step 1 and make sure you are collecting all the information you will be required to have in Step 4?  As you’re setting up your interviews, look at the RCT.  Read through the 15 questions.  Make sure you are covering all of these questions right up front, because you are going to have to answer them in Step 4!

This can save an enormous amount of time during your overall investigation process.  Use the RCT as a “cheat sheet” to determine what questions to ask right up front.  Limit the number of re-interviews you need to perform.  The Root Cause Tree® is more than just a root cause analysis tool.  It is can be used as a powerful data-gathering tool, too.

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