The world of Root Cause Analysis

PPE - September 16, 2013 - 0 comments

root-cause-analysisSologic Europe offers free seminars introducing Root Cause Analysis (RCA). RCA is a fantastic tool for analysing problems in any field, so I thought I would take in one of the free sessions taking place at the CATCH centre in Immingham. The workshop was led by Suzanne Crouch, senior instructor and facilitator at Sologic Europe. Here’s how it went.

The attendee group was a healthy mix from varied roles and levels in the public and private sectors. The group included H&S practitioners from commercial organisations and local government, some from the legal profession and engineers from heavy industries including oil refining and steel production.

The varied nature of the audience proved excellent as everyone had different levels and types of experience, and this led to interesting engagement during the workshop.

Root Cause Analysis workshop content

The workshop began with an overview of root cause analysis. RCA is part of the wider process of Problem Management, and looks at how people, processes, resources and other factors are interlinked in creating events. Defining the problem to analyse is a key part of the process. This clarifies the issue for everyone involved in the analysis.

Capturing the cause and effect links avoids the error of “going straight from the problem to the solution”, but instead encourages people to look at a problem in a step-by-step, logical fashion.

Once you have clearly defined the problem, the core process of root cause analysis enables you to identify the causes. These are then arranged in chronological order to show the order of events leading up to the event in question.

The resulting cause and effect chart is one of the outputs of a root cause analysis. It is a very useful visual representation of the causes and effects leading up to an event and it clearly shows the linked elements. This pictorial representation is very useful in the communication process.

Identifying effective solutions is the main output of a root cause analysis. Solutions are brainstormed using the chart, seeking to eliminate or control each of the identified causes i.e. the actions that would break the causal chain. To be effective, solutions need to be easy to implement, positively affect ROI and avoid negative impacts. Part of this output can be presented in a risk matrix which highlights potential problem areas

suzanne-crouchVenue and presenter

Suzanne Crouch is an experienced instructor and facilitator, and this was evident in the way she presented the information and in how the visuals matched the discussion. She encouraged the audience to ask questions during the workshop and at the end of the seminar. Good examples were used throughout the workshop to support the points. Worked examples helped to support the seminar content.

CATCH Immingham is ideal for this type of workshop. It is a new building with all of the facilities one would expect at a modern venue.

What I learnt

Root Cause Analysis is a great tool for analysing problems in just about any field. Its main use is to find solutions to problems, but it can also be very effective as an aid to understanding the key causes of positive events. I found it interesting that it can be quite a challenge to effectively specify the problem to be analysed. Doing this properly is a foundation of a successful Root Cause Analysis.

I thought that the approach used in RCA i.e. Data > Information > Knowledge > Solutions is a good way to think about issues of interest, and while root cause analysis emanated from work in health and safety, it can be used in just about any area, including continuous improvement and as a driver of innovation.

The use of root cause analysis to break down the causes of a problem into its constituent parts takes the focus away from blaming people for problems to the more useful wider analysis of the complex nature of the causes of events. The wide range of potential uses of Root Cause Analysis makes it a core competence that every organisation should consider.

The world of Root Cause Analysis by PPE.


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