Root Cause Analysis for Better Problem-Solving

When a significant problem occurs, we need to find out what caused it. This allows us to then accomplish two things:
  1. We can explain the problem to the level of detail required to anyone who needs to know about it.
  2. We can identify solutions that will keep the problem from happening again.

One way to do this is to perform a root cause analysis (RCA). But what is root cause analysis?

Root cause analysis is a problem solving tool. Root cause analysis is a structured set of steps that, when followed, yield a clear understanding of what happened, when it happened, where it happened, how it happened, and what to do about it.

Root cause analysis is generally (but not universally) applied to events that occurred in the past. In that sense, it is a reaction to those events. It follows the principal that those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. But maybe a more optimistic way to phrase this is that by looking at how things happened before, we can control how they might happen in the future.

Which root cause analysis tools are best?

There is no root cause analysis standard. It’s probably better to think about root cause analysis as a diverse group of problem solving tools that share a common goal. If you are new to root cause analysis, you will benefit from budgeting some time to learn about the different methods so you can make an informed decision. Our Sologic process includes what we consider to be the best attributes of different RCA methods.

What are some of the root cause analysis tools?

Two of the most common root cause analysis tools are the Five Whys and Fishbone (Ishikawa) RCA methods. For many people, these methods are their first introduction to RCA. And, since they are based on fundamentally different forms of logic, learning about how each works will help provide you with a baseline level of understanding. Click the links below to learn more about each method.

More About Five Whys

More About Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram

Sologic Root Cause Analysis Method

Note: There are many commercially available RCA providers (like Sologic) which you can find through a simple web search. However, since many of them (but not all!) are derivatives of either Five Whys and/or Fishbone, it’s helpful for you to understand those basic methods before going further.

Contact us if you have specific questions or would like to compare/contrast these different methods.