Importance of Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis (RCA) in Business

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a structured method used to analyze “why” a problem or event has occurred. It is based on the principle that the issues can be solved by identifying and solving the root cause instead of other methods that focus on addressing or treating the symptoms. In Lean Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis is a tool used for continuous improvement that provides ways to understand the main cause of defects. It helps in preventing future occurrences. Additionally, it also helps determine and identify breakdowns in processes and systems. This definition further leads us to two important questions:
  1. What is the difference between incidents and accidents?
  2. What is the difference between a cause and a symptom?

What is the difference between incidents and accidents?

An incident is an event that usually happens due to an earlier event. However, it is important to acknowledge that an incident may be positive or negative. In other words, incidents don’t always include perfect events; they include those events that could have caused the loss. Such events are often called near misses, close calls, or near hits. Accidents are different from incidents in the sense that they’re always bad. In any case, it is important to remember when looking at RCA. It’s essential to find out why something didn’t work and why something did.

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What is the difference between causes and symptoms?

The best example to understand this is as follows: when you get sick, be it a common cold or a viral fever, you suffer from symptoms such as headaches, coughs, sore throats, etc. These are just some common symptoms of you being sick, but the reason could either be a bacterial or viral infection. Why is this distinction important? If one is only to treat the symptoms, there is always the risk of getting sick again. Sure, medicine can cure the symptoms, but it will not attack the root of the problem, allowing room for future occurrences. The above scenario is not acceptable for the continual improvement of an organization. Avoiding such possibilities is why root cause analysis is an important part of the Six Sigma methodology. An effective Six Sigma RCA helps maintain the team’s focus on fixing the core causes of the problem rather than constantly treating symptoms. The following are a 5 important ways in which RCA helps to achieve progress in the Lean Six Sigma methodology:

1. Effective Problem Solving by Lean Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis

While adopting Lean Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis often helps to narrow down to the core of an incident and focuses solely on bringing it on the right track. However, without breaking down the root cause of an event, it is difficult to identify the flaws in the system of the said organization.

2. Fosters Collaboration with RCA

It is common for individuals to blame other people or departments in an organization. In Lean Six Sigma, one of the goals of RCA is to avoid this type of situation where everyone blames one another instead of looking at the core systematic issues.

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3. RCA Encourages Continuous Improvement

By identifying the root cause of problems, an organization switches its perspective from maintaining the status quo to continuous improvement. A core facet of Kaizen is the analysis of the existing processes, which RCA embodies perfectly.

4. Root Cause Analysis improves the overall quality

Although in Lean Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis methods are very common and well-known, there can be challenges to making RCA thrive. It is possible to overcome such a challenge by undertaking effective root cause analysis by creating a collaborative effort of collecting data & involving the correct groups to analyze the same. This helps with both effective problems solving and improving the overall quality of the process.

5. Principles of Root Cause Analysis in Lean Six Sigma

A few core principles guide effective root cause analysis in lean six sigma, some of which should already be apparent. This will help the quality of the research, but it will also help the organization establish trust with the stakeholders.

  • Concentrates on resolving root causes rather than just symptoms.
  • Prioritizes the importance of treating symptoms for short-term relief.
  • Recognizes that there may be multiple root causes.
  • Concentrates on HOW and WHY something happened rather than who was at fault.
  • Aids in discovering concrete cause-and-effect evidence to support root cause claims.
  • Provides sufficient information to recommend a course of action for each incident
  • Consider avoiding root causes in the future.

When we analyze serious issues, as illustrated by the principles mentioned above, it is vital to take a comprehensive and holistic approach according to the Source. It is also important to strive to provide context and information and discover the root cause that will result in an action or a decision. Thus, you can implement more improvements by adding transparency to processes and generating good results and customer satisfaction.