Rooting out the problem
30 Sep 2009 Root cause analysis
It’s one thing to feel that your project is not going well, but when it comes to fixing it, you need to get to the root cause of the issue. Fixing the symptom will only delay the need to deal with the core issue. In addition, as projects involve multiple team members and stakeholders, there will be many different perspectives, opinions and priorities regarding the issues that will impact how you proceed. Here, you’ll get access to your FREE tool …and learn THE 5 Whys to help your team define and come to a consensus on the root cause of the issue.
How to use the tool:
- Define the issue with your team. This is a critical step since agreement on the issue definition is needed to solve it. Without it, team members will work on different issues, thinking they are working on the same thing, which can lead to confusion and wasted effort. Fill in the top box with the issue description.
- Ask why – and what is causing that issue. Keep the discussion focused on the next level issue. Write down the most direct reason for that issue and get agreement before proceeding. This step-by-step approach helps focus the group and keeps the discussion on one topic at a time.
- Ask why again and discuss the cause of the issue just written down. Repeat this until you have asked “why?” 5 times. If necessary, you can ask more than five times to get to the root cause.
It’s very simple, easy to apply tool, but a powerful one. If the issue is complex, however, and the 5 whys don’t yield a comprehensive solution, there are other tools such as the Ishikawa diagram that can be useful, which we will cover in later newsletters.