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Root Cause Analysis

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Summary of Root Cause Analysis. Abstract

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a structured step by step technique that focuses on finding the real cause of a problem and dealing with that, rather than continuing to deal with its symptoms. Root cause analysis is a procedure for ascertaining and analyzing the causes of problems in an effort to determine what can be done to solve or prevent them. It is a process to help stakeholders understand problem causes well enough to achieve permanent resolution of those problems.

Goal of RCA

The goal of a Root Cause Analysis is to find out:
- what happened,
- why it happened,
- what can be done to prevent it from happening again.



Most problematic situations which arise within organizations have multiple approaches to resolution. These different approaches generally require different levels of resource expenditure to execute. And, due to the perceived immediacy which exists in most of these situations, there is a tendency to opt for the solution which is the most expedient in terms of dealing with the situation quickly.

In doing this, the tendency is generally to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying fundamental problem that is actually responsible for the situation occurring (root cause). Yet, in taking this expeditious approach to dealing with the symptoms quickly, the problematic situation is likely to return over time and must be dealt with over and over again. The costs of this over time can be high.

Root cause?


A root cause is one of the most basic, or fundamental causes of the condition that we are concerned with. Since the condition is usually affected by many things (physical conditions, human behavior, behavior of systems, or processes), several root causes will usually be found.

The Root Cause Analysis Process


The most common element of RCA methods includes asking why today's condition occurred, recording the answers, and then asking why for each answer, again and again. RCA attempts to identify contributing factors and all causes. This allows to proceed further, by asking why, until the desired goal of finding the "root" causes is reached.
Finding root causes will lead us to the next step: evaluating the best method to change the root cause so we can improve our current condition. That is another process, commonly known as corrective and preventive action. While searching for root cause, we must remember to review each found cause and factor for correction as well, since this can also provide for great improvements.

While the term RCA is generic in the sense that there are many existing different methodologies, it does indicate that some structural methodology will be used on the problem at hand.

👀TIP: On this website you can find much more about finding the real cause of a problem and Root Cause Analysis!

Compare: Theory of Constraints  |  Dialectical Inquiry  |  Brainstorming  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  Kepner-Tregoe Matrix  |  Crisis Management  |  Scenario Planning  |  Game Theory  |  Real Options  |  Plausibility Theory  |  RACI

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