How to do a Root Cause Analysis?

Right from our very first blog, we have been firm believers in the practice of ‘asking the right questions to arrive at the right answer’.

“If you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the ABC of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems.” 

– Edward Hodnett

In the interests of transparency, we would like to declare at the outset, that this blog has borrowed heavily from the immensely useful and well put-together body of work that already exists.  In many ways, we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

The Root Cause Analysis system using the 5 Whys is a powerful tool in the arsenal of an entrepreneur and his team. It allows them to understand what is happening deep within the processes that are broken. What’s more, the questioning system strips away any personal connect and focuses on the problem at hand “Why did this process break and what can we do to fix things?”

The underlying premise of this line of thinking is that very often, the first answer to ‘why something failed’ is not the actual reason. The real reason lies after the third or even at the 5th Why question.

Why is the RCA system so popular?

For a problem-solving system to be successful and widely adopted, it needs to be easy to understand and simple to follow. It should also be versatile enough to suit different needs and circumstances and should ‘get the job done’. The RCA system checks all these boxes.

 Here’s how:

  1. Easy to understand and simple to follow : The RCA allows people to come together and understand the problem. There is no need for complicated hypothesis and statistical calculations. The process begins with a simple problem statement and subsequent discussions geared towards getting to the root cause.
  2. Versatility : The RCA system thrives when the issues are related to human error and gaps in the process while humans interact with each other. This provides RCA systems with a wide range of possible use cases.
  3. Get the job done : RCA allows for people to come together and brainstorm likely causes and potential solutions, apart from also helping the team understand the relationships between possibly unrelated issues. Creating new connections and creating a shared view of the solution allows teams to break silos and come up with solutions that make matters easier for everyone.

How to Conduct an RCA exercise

Step 1: Define the problem

Step 2: Collect data and identify possible causal factors

Step 3: Define the root causes

Step 4: Recommend, hypothesise and test solutions

Step 5: Identify the best solution and share learnings with the organisation 

Here is how the system pans out using the Design Thinking Methodology

We believe that the Root Cause Analysis using the 5 Whys are useful at every stage of the entrepreneurial process. Whether it is to identify the fundamental reason behind the company to exist all the way to daily meetings and conferences when things go wrong. 

We hope you found this blog interesting and informative. 

As always, we would really appreciate your comments and suggestions on how we can improve our content. We are, after all, making this for you, and your feedback is an important part of our decision-making process in our blogging strategy.

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