A root cause analysis is a method of determining the real cause of a fault or problem. The root refers to a tree with the root being the beginning, but often hidden from view. 5 whys, fishbone diagram, and pareto analysis are all different methods used for root cause analysis.
Often the cause, and therefore the solution, of a fault or incident can be many layers deep. Often the cause of the fault or incident is not what appears. Imagine a shop didn’t open on time because the manager that opens the shop slept in. The initial cause is that the manager slept in. However, there are two branches that could be explored from here; why did the sleep in and why is one person relied on to open the store. Once the root cause is known then a permanent solution can be put in place to avoid it recurring
A root cause analysis template is generally used in order to equally encourage probing and to document the diagnosis and actions for future reference. A root cause analysis tends to take the form of a meeting where all parties run through the following sections; define the problem, collect supporting information, identify the cause, prioritise the causes, identify the solutions and implement, monitor and sustain.
A root cause analysis tends to be conducted by a small team in order to get different perspectives. Often there is a leader of the group. Root cause analysis is valuable in every organisation in every industry in the world. There are always issues that occur. Don’t forget that root cause analysis techniques can also be, but often aren’t, used to determine what made something a success.