Root Cause Analysis - What is really the problem?

Root Cause Analysis - What is really the problem?

     For many, just mentioning root cause analysis makes them cringe, run and hide; however, if you break the process into pieces, then eating the elephant is not that hard. Root cause analysis is an approach for identifying the underlying causes of an incident, so the most effective solutions can be identified and implemented. It’s typically used when something goes badly, but can also be used when something goes well. Within an organization root cause analysis is used for problem solving and incident investigation as two examples.

RCA’s are all fundamentally connected by the following basic questions. This series will work through the key issues that are keeping you from reaching your goals.

  • What’s the problem?
  • Specify the problem. What about the goal keeps you from being successful?
  • Evaluate the problem. What will be done to prevent it from happening again?
  • Solve the problem. Create an action plan.
  • Measure the outcomes.

Define the problem:
To figure out what went wrong, you must first define what the problem is. Let’s say you have a goal of selling three cars per week and you only sell one per week on average. The problem is, clearly, you are not selling enough cars per week. The real question then becomes, "why I am not selling three cars per week?"

Maybe you are your own worst enemy

Over the next few weeks, we will look at common reasons preventing you from reaching your goals. The reason could be one or more of these factors: environment, people, materials, equipment, methods or measurements. However, for the first article in this series, we will focus on how you may be getting in your way.

Keeping with the same goal of selling cars, let's look at a couple of examples that may prevent you from selling cars. We will focus on training and marketing in later editions, but for now, let’s look at daily habits. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do you find yourself always getting in trouble for being late to work?
    • Solution: Go to bed earlier, set multiple alarms.
  • While at work, do you spend too much time talking to co-workers?
    • Solution: Create tasks to help you stay on track. Only allow yourself to gossip at lunch or on breaks.
  • Do you spend too much time on your phone playing games?
    • Solution: Delete the games off your phone. Only allow yourself to play games at lunch or after work.
  • Did you not learn the sales techniques taught to you?
    • Solution: Do your homework. Sometimes just going to the training class is not enough.
  • Do you know your product?
    • Solution: Do your homework. Your customers do online research to learn about the product, you should too.
  • Do you dress for success?
    • Solution: If you look like you don't care about yourself, then it will be reflected in your work. 
  • Are you following up on your commitments?
    • Solution: Create tasks to help you meet your commitments and complete these tasks. Before long, you will be a rock star. 

These are just a few examples of the reasons you may not be hitting your goals. If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you are your worst enemy. Although, for these questions, the solutions are pretty obvious. The good news is that you can still work through the root cause analysis to determine if you need help from an external source to reach your goals. In the next, we will look at environmental issues that prevent you from reaching your goals.

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