When training goes to waste

Though uncommon, some companies invest time and resources into Root Cause Analysis training, set up formal triggers and expectations of use, and then do not follow through. This not only devalues the training but also sends a message to all involved that training was just a KPI box to be completed and forgotten. Its critical that once the training is completed a formal RCA process is established and progress monitored.

When it’s not supported

In order for RCA to be an effective tool in a defect elimination program, success requires more than just training. Structures need to be in place to support the training, pre-and-post, that mentors new members added to the team and facilitates ongoing feedback. These structures need to clearly delineate exactly when an investigation should take place and the support that will be provided in terms of time and resources to achieve the desired results. Without support for the chosen process, the expected outcomes are rarely delivered.

When solutions aren’t implemented

What’s the point in doing the work involved with an investigation if corrective actions are not implemented? This is one of the quickest ways to ensure the recurrence of an issue and put a hard stop to the development of a problem-solving culture. From a management perspective, time and resources would seem wasted and the buy-in would be limited, and for the team involved with investigations, this leaves zero incentives to participate in future RCAs. Actively tracking solution implementation at a regular cadence will ensure that the program delivers.

When only soft solutions are implemented

Sure, it’s easier to implement soft controls over hard controls, because they are generally the easy, lower-cost solutions. This approach can be akin to “slapping a Band-Aid over the problem,” while still being perceived as having done something to fix it. But, this approach will not guarantee the problem will not happen again, and in the long run, it’s an easy way to ensure your team is constantly in “fire-fighting” mode.   Evaluating the proposed solution against set criteria sets the program up for success.

When it’s always a blame game

Finding a scapegoat and pointing fingers at who caused the issue will not prevent it from happening again and ultimately will scare others from reporting future issues or near-misses. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter WHO caused the issue so much as it matters WHAT the issue was and what needs to be put in place to ensure it does not happen again. No blame needs to be a feature of any RCA program implementation.

When success is not measured 

How do you know if the corrective actions resulting from an RCA are effective in preventing recurrence if nothing is measured? When there is no audit into how things are going post-RCA, it sends a strong message that there is no interest, or little, in the work that was done to complete the analysis or the solutions put in place. The additional work done to complete RCAs will not be seen as necessary, as it's not important enough to review, and the work or the effort in doing this will then drop away until it's no longer done at all.

For the ongoing success of a program, management should be tracking KPIs like how many RCAs have been raised against the triggers set, how many actions have been raised in the month as a result, and, of those actions raised, how many have been completed.

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