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Follow the Yellow Brick Road

published on May 27, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

For a few weeks now I have been defining different areas of 6Sigma and now I want to impart some simplicity in how and when to use some of those tools. In my eyes one of the most important tools for 6Sigma is Root Cause Analysis.

I am about to make a very unpopular statement, but here goes anyway…There is no one right way to do a Root Cause Analysis. This is true because every organization is different culturally and in the services provided. To get the most out of a Root Cause Analysis, consider these points?

Identify what the issue was. 

 Define simply and specifically what really happened.  This can be time consuming, but this should be an initial step. This is where you wade through the entire finger pointing and blaming situation because it’s non-essential. What you are really looking for is what ruffled everyone’s feathers, not the indirect effects but the specific moment that caused the entire trauma.  There is a subcategory to this point; it helps with specification if you determine if it is a customer issue, an operations issue or an organizational issue.


What caused the issue

 Here is where most organizations throw away a wonderful improvement opportunity. Root Cause Analysis should not be used to get project members or staff fired, you are going to need openness and cooperation to pinpoint the causes and scared staff is neither open nor cooperative. You are going to need to view  your organization as a living entity, what about it caused this issue?


How do you want to solve it?

 This is where the water gets murky. The solution cannot be a band-aid in Root Cause, there needs to be an extraction of some sort and the solution needs to operate within the constraints of your organization.  Typical constraints are time, money and manpower, so at the very least your solutions need to address these areas.  Root Cause demands realistic solutions, meaning that there has to be a practical application. When it looks good on paper and translates well to your staff, you have a solution.

Root Cause is about getting to the root and at times it is neither pretty nor comfortable, but it is necessary.  Healing the root of a problem ensure that the problem has no continuity and you are free to do what your customers pay you for.

published on May 27, 2011


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