Each month, your team surely seems to be working hard to meet its goals. Yet every month, as you near the deadline, you search that your team is running behind. In March, someone told you that the difficulty was a software glitch. So you bought new software.
In April, you heard that a shortage of publicizing material was causing the problem, so you wrote a stern memo to the Manager of Marketing, asking for an explanation. In May, your team was late over; this time, a team member explained that the problem is linked to a network slowdown. So you called IT to get the problem resolved.
Now it’s June, and you’re watching at yet another missed goal. And you’re sick and weary of putting out fires. Something must be at the cause of all these missed goals, and you want to figure out what the actual problem is and deal with it.
Root cause analysis, according to the Washington State Section of Enterprise Services, is “a systematic procedure for identifying ‘root causes’ of problems or events and a method for responding to them. It is based on the basic plan that effective management needs more than merely ‘putting out fires’ for problems that develop, but finding a method to prevent them.”
Root Cause Analysis is often—though not always—linked with Six Sigma, a set of business gears developed by Motorola during the 1980’s. The goal of Six Sigma is to set and strive to reliably reach a very high set of standards through a continual procedure of evaluation and improvement.
Are you ready to get to the root of your team’s trade problems?
Visualize you’ve never heard of the common cold. Then, one day, you develop a stuffy nose, a fever, a pain, and a cough. You see each separate symptom as a unique difficult, and you see yourself as suffering from a whole range of illnesses—each worse than the previous one. You treat the stuffy nose with a decongestant, the fever with aspirin, and the cough with cough molasses. For a while, at least, you feel better. But within a few hours, each of the indications reappears. You begin to the misery that there isn’t any cure at all.
Then you analyze your indications, noticing that they all appeared at the same time. You do a little investigation, and you discover that no, you don’t have four different illnesses. You have just a single disease which can be addressed very simply with a mixture of rest, plenty of fluids, and the passage of time.