How to Tackle Challenges in Root Cause Analysis – Common Ones

Knowing how to tackle challenges in root cause analysis is part of the process because you will sometimes encounter challenges in implementation So, what do you do?

There are at least four common challenges you may encounter.

The “Blame Game” is One of the Major Challenges in Root Cause Analysis

Never start off your root cause analysis by pointing fingers or placing blame. A root cause analysis is supposed to be a constructive exercise with the aim of creating improvement.

Fingers pointing at a woman
Fingers pointing at a woman

If you do so, you only murky the waters for yourself as the Lead. Understand that it is natural for some team members to feel defensive when their areas are under the microscope.

With that being said, imagine how they could completely clam up when fingers are already being pointed at them

Start off with a safe and blame-free environment where team members can openly share their insights and observations.

Impress upon everyone that the root cause analysis is a collective effort to bring about improvement and positive change.

Learn to focus on the problem, not the person. Even if you feel judgmental, try not to show it!.

When everyone feels comfortable participating, communication will be easy and you will be able to uncover a lot of helpful and relevant information.

Lack of Data or Incomplete Information

Having data, and having enough of it is like jet fuel to an airplane in a root cause analysis. But what if you do not have enough data or the information is incomplete?

It can be quite tempting to cancel the whole exercise! There is a way to tackle the situation.

Start off by gathering whatever data is available. Even limited information can provide valuable insights if you critically review it.

Of course if there are gaps in the available data, then decide to think outside the box and look for innovative ways to acquire more data.

For example conduct interviews with internal (employees) and external (customers, suppliers) stakeholders where necessary. You may even decide to run additional small-scale tests to gather more data.

Be innovative!

Remember, the key is to be resourceful and make the best use of what you have.

Problem is more Complex than Anticipated

The reality is that some issues can be more complex than anticipated and reveal multiple interrelated causes. The key is to resist the tendency to be overwhelmed into beating a retreat!

Challenges in Root Cause Analysis – The Solution

Break down the problem into smaller more manageable chunks and tackle each piece of the huge puzzle one at a time. You can use tools like the fault tree analysis to dig deeper and identify the underlying causes.

Also, be open to seeking assistance from experts or consultants who have experience in dealing with complex problems. This can be really quite helpful especially if you are already worried about the time you are spending on the analysis.

An external input can bring a different perspective and offer clarity.

Inadequate Time and Resources

Hand holding up gear depicting process and time as a continuum
Hand holding up gear depicting process and time as a continuum

As a small business owner, you already know that time and resources are commodities you do not wish to waste.

The concern is that a root cause analysis will drain resources – man hours and cash.

This is by far the biggest challenge presented by many owners – AFTER they have effectively created business chaos by not addressing a relatively small problem in a timely manner.

The key here is to strike a balance. While the analysis does requires an investment of time and effort, the outcome is well worth it.

Remember, you can always source for expert assistance and probably get it done in considerably less time.

If you do decide to do the analysis in-house, begin with small projects that will have a high impact and greater value for the business.

As you begin to see benefits, you can slowly make root cause analysis a part of your continuous improvement process and not “reserved for special events only”!

Conclusion – How to Tackle Challenges in Root Cause Analysis

When you understand how to tackle challenges in root cause analysis, you gradually begin to see your business problems as opportunities for growth and learning.

If you need assistance with conducting a root cause analysis for your business, CONTACT US TODAY

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