8Problem-Solving Tools and Techniques

8.0 Root Cause Analysis

Most textbooks do not differentiate between the tools needed for problem-solving and those needed for decision-making because most of the tools can be used for both. Root cause analysis (RCA) and brainstorming are most frequently used for problem-solving and will be discussed here. The other tools, many of which apply to problem-solving, will be discussed later under Chapter 9, Decision-Making.

RCA is a class of problem-solving methods aimed at identifying the root causes of problems or events. The practice of RCA is predicated on the belief that problems are best solved by attempting to address, correct, or eliminate root causes, as opposed to merely addressing the immediately obvious symptoms. By directing corrective measures at root causes, it is more probable that problem recurrence will be prevented. However, it is recognized that complete prevention of recurrence by one corrective action is not always possible. Conversely, there may be several effective measures (methods) that address the root cause of a problem. Thus, RCA is often considered to be an iterative process and is frequently viewed as a tool of continuous improvement.

RCA is typically used as a reactive method of identifying event(s) causes, revealing problems, and solving them. Analysis is done after an event has occurred and the problem is visible. Insights in RCA may make it useful as a proactive method. In that event, RCA can be used to forecast ...

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