This is the first in a nine-part series of articles. This first one will lay out what I think are essential characteristics of an RCA program. The other articles will follow up on each of the items in some detail.
What does it take to implement a Root Cause Analysis program or initiative? How do you insure it continues? Who needs to be involved? These are all important questions, and over the years, I have had the opportunity to think about them and evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Each organization has its own culture, desires, drive or other personality traits which may require the adjustment of these characteristics, but I believe they are all required in some form or another. I have listed them here for you to ponder and perhaps relate to programs that you may have seen succeed or fail at your facilities. So, what are these characteristics?
- A plan to provide resources that is complete with a program champion and trained investigators
- A sponsor, or program champion, who is involved and committed in the process
- Establishment of clear trigger mechanisms to clarify exactly what will be investigated
- Establishment of clear protocols for the collection and preservation of information and evidence
- Establishment of a standard reporting process to provide communication, further analysis, and the cost savings achieved
- Establishment of a tracking system that ensures items are not lost and which drives the action items to completion
- A process to review the investigations for common causes, possible improvement opportunities, and missed opportunities
- A process to track and report the value to the stakeholders of the RCA program
Root Cause Analysis is one program that can be initiated through what I would call a back door. I know this because I did it. This involves someone taking a class and liking it and the value it brings, and then using it in the plant to provide value. This is almost always a good thing, but sometimes the other leg work is not done which can lead to problems down the road. These problems end up being many of the characteristics that are mentioned above.
Where did they come from?
In my job, I had the opportunity to use the Apollo Root Cause Analysis process for about 12 years. Then, I taught the same process to many organizations over the next 14 years. Over this time I have observed issues and asked why. The results of these observations and questions were the formulation of the characteristics that are listed above which I believe are necessary for success.
Cast in Concrete?
These characteristics also must be taken as guidelines. This means that the order can be adjusted, and each one needs to be thought through and integrated with the corporate/plant culture that exists. I will describe each characteristic in more detail so that readers can adopt, adapt, or ignore them based on the understanding that they get from each discussion.
Call to action
So, please join me over the next weeks as I delve deeper into each of these characteristics. I especially look forward to getting your input and comments about these and any other characteristics you may believe might be missing.
Perhaps you already see something that is missing or don’t understand in the list. If you don’t want to wait, send me a comment, and let’s get a discussion going.