What is Root Cause Analysis?
Root Cause Analysis (RCA) uses logic to analyze the cause-and-effect relationships of an event. Root cause analysis is performed to find solutions that ensure undesirable events do not happen again. Learn more in our RCA fact sheet.
What kind of problems do you solve with Sologic® RCA?
You can use Sologic to solve any problem. Most problems do not have a single “right” solution; only good, better or best solutions, depending on the situation. We solve problems from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep at night. For example:
I’m hungry. What should I eat for breakfast?
I need to get to work. Which route should I take and how should I get there?
I need to get dressed. What clothing should I choose?
These are simple examples that demonstrate how problems don't necessarily have correct answers.
Most organizations use Sologic to analyze and investigate significant problems, such as:
We had an accident today that sent an employee to the hospital.
- What can I do to make sure this kind of accident doesn't happen again?
- How can I make our work environment safer?
Our customer discovered a quality defect.
- How can I make sure that we find defects before parts are shipped?
- How can I eliminate the source of the defect?
Today an event caused the power plant to go offline.
- How do I increase the reliability of critical plant components?
- How can I maximize uptime?
We released a small amount of chlorine gas yesterday, but it could have been much larger.
- How do we prevent this specific incident from happening again?
- How can we make our facility safer for employees and our neighbors in the community?
A key employee left our company today.
- Why did the employee quit?
- What can we do to increase our retention rate?
Our customer service department is overloaded.
- How can we solve individual customer complaints?
- How can we maintain a higher overall service level?
Problems present themselves as independent incidents, but they’re usually part of a broader, systemic deficiency. For instance, a single accident contributes to the overall injury rate, involving several injuries over a period of time.
These are only a few examples of the problems that can be analyzed with the Sologic method of root cause analysis.
Why do we need to standardize how we solve problems?
No organization is problem-free. The systems we create constantly need adjustment – sometimes in minor ways, and sometimes through radical change. Problems show us where to focus our process improvement efforts.
When we standardize the problem solving process, we eliminate variability and confusion. When everyone speaks the same language, we are more well-positioned to be an effective learning organization – we communicate more effectively and minimize blame, embarrassment, ego and defensiveness. Everyone can focus on using logic to solve the problem.
What is a root cause?
Events have many causes – all of which are necessary for the event to occur. For example, an open-air fire requires oxygen, combustible material, an ignition source, and a transitory event (such as a match strike) that catalyzes the event.
So which of these is the root cause? All of them.
In the Sologic methodology, a root cause is defined as any cause that – when controlled, altered or removed – prevents the problem from recurring. Removing any of the causes in the example above would prevent the fire. The real question is not which cause is the root cause, but which causes are most economical or practical for you to control?
There are (potentially) as many solutions to a problem as the number of causes that created the effect in the first place. Once you’ve identified these causes, you can focus on choosing the best options.
Who should attend a Sologic seminar?
Sologic training is appropriate for employees who will lead and participate in root cause analysis investigations or programs. We also have training designed specifically for managers who typically do not participate in RCA investigations, but provide key resources that play a critical role in the success of the RCA program.
We offer both public and on-site training, and a flexible mix of live, instructor-led classes and e-learning options. Visit our training page to learn more.
Is a Sologic training program worth the investment?
Problems are always costly. But how do you know whether you’re getting a good return on your investment in Sologic root cause analysis? We use the following formula to help demonstrate our ROI.
Problem: Fractured right arm
Total Cost: $15,000
Cost of Analysis: 16 hours (4 employees, 4 hours) $1,600
Cost of Solutions: $2,000
The formula looks like this: Cost of problem / (Cost of analysis + Cost of solutions)
In this case, the return on investment is roughly: 417% = $15,000 / ($1,600 + $2,000)
But did we really earn such a high return? Remember, no money came in the door as a result of this accident – it actually went out the door three times (cost of medical expenses, cost of analysis, and cost of solutions).
Money flows out your door every day due to problems and unwanted incidents, both large and small. The same is true for your competitors. Maximizing the number of problems that you identify and effectively eliminate will help make you the industry leader.
Problems force us to spend money, and as such, are forced investments. But, we get to decide whether or not we earn a return. As long as people remain imperfect, we’re going to encounter problems with the systems we create. There’s no way around it.
So, we’re left with a choice. We can choose to logically identify and eliminate the causes of recurring problems with the Sologic method. Or, we can continue to do what we’ve always done and hope the problem doesn’t happen again. Sologic helps you reduce the risk that the problem, and others like it, will recur.
Did the broken arm described above cost the company $15,000? Yes.
Did we spend $3,600 to ensure it never happens again? Yes.
If we greatly reduce the risk that this problem (or others like it) will happen again, we have made a sound investment. We have also minimized the potential for qualitative costs of a broken arm, such as pain and suffering. It pays to solve problems the first time. The Sologic method will help you eliminate costly, challenging problems and make sure they don’t recur.
(Note: Some companies may choose to employ a more complex ROI calculation, such as net present value. Please contact us for details about more robust ROI calculations.)
How can I get management to support the conclusions of my analysis?
This is a question that frequently comes up during and after class. Usually people ask these questions when they have historically found management less than enthusiastic – especially if existing investigation processes are informal.
Let's assume that management aspires to make good decisions. If this is true, managers will want to understand that good decisions about problem analysis involve:
Effectiveness: does the proposed solution make the problem go away?
Control: is the proposed solution within the manager's control to implement?
Profitability: does the proposed solution offer a good return on investment?
Getting managerial support is much easier when you show that your conclusions are based on solid causal analysis. Solutions are effective because they control one or more causes of the event. Therefore, to gain support, you need to show a decision maker:
- Which causes do you intend to control or eliminate?
- How do you intend to achieve control?
- Why, if you are successful in achieving control, will it solve the problem?
- Finally, what is the return on investment?
I’m not technically inclined. Will I be able to use the Sologic process effectively?
The Sologic method is built on more than two decades of experience in solving challenging, real-world problems for clients in every field of business. We understand that everyone has a different background and level of technical ability. Sologic is simple to use, easy to understand, and applies clear logic to help you work through complex problems. Anyone can use it effectively.
We have also created our Sologic Causelink™ software to help you apply the method you’ve learned in an intuitive and user-friendly way. You don’t need to be an engineer, IT professional, or technician of any kind to leverage the power of Sologic’s method.
What problems should I investigate?
No one has enough time to solve every problem that occurs. The Sologic method helps you to develop a set of threshold criteria that will be used to trigger an analysis. These criteria are specific to your organization and flow directly from your strategic goals. They also depend upon the resources you’ve committed to conducting investigations.
Is there software available to complete my analysis?
Yes. Sologic Causelink® harnesses the most significant RCA research and innovation in a generation, driven directly by client input and experiences. It’s intuitive and highly user-friendly. It also helps you create more accurate, informed cause-and-effect charts to support your RCA program.
Will Sologic deliver training at my site?
Yes. We have a variety of flexible, cost-effective training options to serve your specific needs. Training can be deployed at single or multiple locations.
Will Sologic conduct an investigation for our company?
Our affiliate company, Artemis Investigations, uses the Sologic method to conduct impartial, third-party investigations and facilitations for your organization. We are often better positioned to preserve and document evidence, prepare for legal due diligence, navigate internal politics, foster openness and collaboration, and produce reports that are considered impartial and credible.
How do I obtain pricing information on a Sologic RCA class at my site?
Please contact us if you would like to obtain a quote for on-site training classes and workshops.
How do I set up a Sologic RCA program for my organization?
Sologic RCA training is much more effective when it’s based on a clear, well-organized plan. Our Program Development services are designed to help you establish specific and measurable RCA goals, and lay the foundational elements for a successful program.
Can I use Sologic proactively to eliminate problems before they occur?
Many organizations are interested in being proactive by eliminating problems before they occur. The Sologic process can’t predict the future, and you should be wary of anyone who claims that they can. Sologic RCA, however, promotes the discovery of common and “systemic” causes that apply not only to the problem being analyzed, but also to related problems that have yet to occur.
If the specific “systemic” causes can be eliminated, this is a proactive step, because all future problems influenced by this same systemic cause will not occur. Systemic causes typically reside in the organizational culture, work processes, and procedures.
We use Six-Sigma. What would Sologic RCA do for me?
Many of our clients are deeply committed to the Six Sigma quality improvement process. The Sologic RCA method fits extremely well with a Six Sigma program by augmenting the “Analyze” step with a more robust and powerful RCA method that reduces or eliminates time spent later testing variables or conducting “design of experiments.”
Six Sigma, among other things, calls for the organization to recognize problems that lead to quality defects, and then to analyze those problems. The Sologic method provides a powerful tool to help understand the causes of quality deviations or process deficiencies. When you use Sologic, you can be confident that the improvements you suggest directly attack root causes of the problem you’re trying to fix.
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