Author: Mike Gibbons | October 30, 2018

If there is one question I am constantly asked as an Apollo Root Cause Analysis (RCA) trainer, it is this: ‘How does Apollo help with human performance?’

We know that there will always be inconsistencies between what people are instructed to do and how they do it (human performance). We also know that companies need to manage and reduce these differences as much as possible. When significant, uncontrolled or sudden differences occur – and, as a result, costly problems arise – then analysis and investigation is needed to identify what’s behind the differences.

Within the Apollo Root Cause Analysis methodology, the term ‘Caused By’ takes us on a journey of causal events or a causal path. Once all causes have been documented, we can apply effective solutions so that the problem does not reoccur. The Apollo methodology is not only robust, but it is also logical and variable.

Human-related failures are found in just about every type of problem somewhere along the line, but mostly in event-based problems.

In a human performance-based system, an employee/operator is required to perform a set task or multiple varied tasks. For each task performed there is a required outcome.

The Apollo Root Cause Analysis methodology requires us to investigate not only the actions performed or not performed (in-actions) but also the existent conditions that surround the actions or in-actions. We know that actions are momentary, and conditions exist over time. When the actions and conditions come together at the same point in time and space, the primary effect or defined problem is presented.

If we record the issue (primary effect) as ‘Operator Error’, then we must investigate what caused the error and subsequent causes in greater detail. A comprehensive list of the actions or in-actions and conditions will allow us to create deeper causal paths based on cause-and-effect relationships. In many cases, we find that the causes of an ‘Operator Error’ are systemic.

Considering that most people go to work to do the right thing, it stands to reason that when the wrong thing happens there could be other forces at work.  If we simply get rid of the operator for making an error, then the real issues are not eliminated, because we haven’t considered them during the investigation. Even with a new operator, chances are high that the same error may occur along with associated impacts (time, lost production, injuries, financial loss).

By using the structured process of the Apollo Root Cause Analysis methodology, you can uncover the root causes of human performance problems effectively and consistently, giving you deeper insight into systemic causes. And then, you can implement a solution that prevents ‘Operator Error’ from recurring.

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